|December 2007 Message|
It is with a mixture of sadness, excitement, and appreciation that I am writing to inform you that I am leaving the Greenleaf Center, due to financial pressures upon the Center.
In a letter, dated November 30, 2007, longtime Greenleaf Center board chair, Jack Lowe, wrote the following: It is with deep regret that we must inform you that your position with the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership must be eliminated. This is due to no fault of your own but merely to the fiscal constraints, we are currently facing. The members of the Board of Directors join me in thanking you for your many years of loyal and dedicated service to the Center.
It is not the outcome that I had hoped for when I stepped out of the President & CEO role in April 2007 and into a new role as President Emeritus & Senior Fellow. I had much more to give to The Greenleaf Center, and many new projects in the works. Nevertheless, I accept this new reality, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share with you these parting thoughts.
As I look back over the past eighteen years as President & CEO, I find that I have so much to be grateful for. Global awareness of servant-leadership has grown dramatically during that time, as has the Center. When I began with the Greenleaf Center in March 1990, we faced the very real prospect of not only the Center going out of existence, but also a decline in the awareness and practice of servant leadership. With the absenting of Robert Greenleaf's active involvement around 1980, the Center's fortunes had begun to decline to the point that when I began in 1990 the Center's annual budget was less than $90,000-most of which came from a final operating grant that had been given to it by Lilly Endowment, along with the challenge to self-determination.
I came to The Greenleaf Center with a strong sense of what I thought was needed to turn things around, and over the intervening years we succeeded in doing just that, to the point that our 2006 income was around $700,000-nearly all of it earned revenue, not soft grant monies. In addition, as of December 31, 2006 the Greenleaf Center had assets totaling another $700,000. As I think back over the past eighteen years, I take encouragement in so many good things that have occurred.
And so, with a nod and a wink to David Letterman-one of Indianapolis' favorite sons, and someone who grew up not far from where I live-I offer my own "Top Ten Farewell List" of key contributions and accomplishments since 1990 (drum roll, please!):
While the elimination of my position has appeared as something of a dark cloud for me, the silver lining is that I have great clarity of vision about what comes next. I have been living my true calling for a great many years now, and it is my hope that I can continue to do the work that I have been doing-raising global awareness of the meaning and practices of servant-leadership. In order to accomplish that goal, The Larry C. Spears Center for Servant-Leadership, Inc. has now been established. This will be a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to encourage the understanding and practice of servant-leadership around the world. This will be done through a wide range of electronic and print publications, through speaking and other programs, through the creation of a partnership network, and more. Among the immediate projects for 2008 are a number of books and essays, including:
• A new servant-leadership anthology, Servant Leadership: Heart, Mind, Spirit (with Shann Ferch, Gonzaga University)
Today, December 30, is my 52nd birthday. A friend said that this is a perfect age to launch my own initiative and commented, "Fifty-two is also the number in a full deck of cards. Play the hand that you are dealt, and make a difference!" That sounds like good advice to me, and that is what I plan to continue to do. My commitment to the great servant-leadership movement is unwavering, and despite the sadness of having to leave a place that I have lovingly nurtured for nearly two decades, I am filled with hope for the future, and excited about the opportunities to continue to make a difference through servant-leadership and The Spears Center.
I wish all good things for The Greenleaf Center, and for you, in the New Year.
Larry C. Spears