In today’s rapidly evolving world, leadership styles have shifted from authoritative and hierarchical models to more collaborative, empathetic and people-centric approaches.
One such leadership philosophy that is gaining attention is servant leadership—one that I have long appreciated. And while this idea has caught on in recent years, it dates to the 1970s, thanks to Robert K. Greenleaf, who coined the term in his essay, “The Servant as Leader.”
Boiled down, the servant leadership style is characterized by placing others first. Writes Greenleaf:
“The best test, and most difficult to administer, is this: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”
Author and speaker Simon Sinek describes this as a “leader eats last” mindset. As a leader, when you focus on lifting up those around you, you’ll create a culture where individuals feel comfortable sharing ideas, seeking feedback and working together toward a common purpose.
Concepts of trust, diversity, unselfishness, support, empathy and community building all weave their way through servant leadership.
Epitomizing these characteristics, I am happy to say, are CalCPA members who step up daily to lead their firms, companies, organizations, communities and the profession.
We recently began our 2023-24 fiscal year, which brings a new membership leadership slate at CalCPA’s state and chapter levels. At our recent Council meeting, we welcomed Meredith Johnson, a partner at BPM, as our 2023-24 CalCPA chair and Andrea Cope as CalCPA Education Foundation chair. If you’ve been around CalCPA for any length of time, you’ll know that both women have long served our organization in various capacities.
You can read more about Meredith and her priorities for her term in our Q&A with her on Page 12 of the August issue, and look for a similar Q&A with Andrea in our September issue of California CPA.
I’m excited and encouraged about what Meredith and Andrea—along with other member leaders who have stepped into their roles—will bring to CalCPA and to each of us.
One of the great things about being a servant leader is, with the right mindset, anyone can be one—from whatever position they hold. It’s more than a title; it’s a way of leading driven by a desire to serve, not accumulate power. Again, in Greenleaf’s words: “How do we get the right things done will be the watchword of the day, every day.”
I encourage you to seek areas—inside and outside of CalCPA—where you can lead. If you’re looking to give your leadership skills a boost, visit calcpa.org/leadership and check out our CPE courses. We would love to partner with you to be inspired and inspire others.
Denise LeDuc Froemming, CPA, CAE, MBA is President & CEO of CalCPA and CalCPA Education Foundation.