Dear Servant-Leader:

My wife Beth and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on January 17. It was cause for celebration and remembrances—one of which was simply that we had been married on a very cold and snowy day in Philadelphia’s City Hall in 1979.

Thirty years later, we found ourselves in Springfield, Illinois on yet another cold and snowy day, as we chose to celebrate our anniversary by visiting the Abraham Lincoln Museum. Beth and I had talked about going there ever since it had opened, and we were happy to make it a centerpiece of our anniversary weekend travels.

Like many Americans, we have been great admirers of President Lincoln and have read a number of books about him over the years. The Lincoln Museum, itself, was a potent reminder of the humility, sadness, and greatness that made up such a large measure of who he was. Everywhere we turned, we were reminded that Abraham Lincoln was one of our greatest servant-leaders.

“Lincoln,” wrote Robert K. Greenleaf, “once said in a moment of crisis, ‘If we but knew where we are and whither we are tending, we might better know what to do now.’ He [Lincoln] stated the dilemma of all administrators.” [Robert K. Greenleaf, On Becoming a Servant Leader, 1996, p.204]

As I watched the inauguration of President Barack Obama several days later, I was reminded of Greenleaf’s reference to Lincoln, as well as this next quote from Lincoln, himself—

“It is very common in this country to find facility of expression and less common to find great lucidity of thought. The combination of the two in one person is very uncommon; but whenever you do find it, you have a great man.” [Abraham Lincoln to British journalist Edward Dicey, 1862]

It is my passionate hope and belief that President Obama carries within him the same rare combination of “facility of expression” and “great lucidity of thought” that President Lincoln embodied. I also hope that President Obama will, through his own example, continue to inspire many more servant-leaders across our country and around the world.

Warm regards,
Larry C. Spears, President & CEO
The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership

Dear Servant-Leader:

I have just received the wonderful news that The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership, Inc. has been approved as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization by the Internal Revenue Service. As a recognized public charity, we are now eligible to receive contributions, grants, bequests, and other kinds of financial support. Financial donations to the Spears Center are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the tax laws.

Over the past two decades, I have devoted myself to the joyful task of encouraging a better world through expanding our understanding and practices of servant-leadership. Much of my work has focused on communicating these ideas through a series of books, journals, articles, newsletters, essays, interviews, the internet, radio and television appearances, and hundreds of public presentations around the world. Slowly-but-surely, public awareness and practice of servant-leadership has grown.

In recent months, The Spears Center board and I have worked hard to put into place the basic building blocks for growing The Spears Center as a long-term resource for servant-leadership information and inspiration. Some of these elements have included:

  • The establishment of The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership Inc. as a not-for-profit organization, located in the state of Indiana (December 2007)
  • Defining the mission and vision for this new organization (January 2008)
  • Establishing an organizational website (February 2008)
  • Creating the goals and objectives that guide our work as an organization (March 2008)
  • Creating a regular e-newsletter, Servant-Leader News, as a significant communications tool (April 2008)
  • Submission to IRS of our application for tax-exempt status as a not-for-profit organization (April 2008)
  • Establishing a board of trustees, and the holding of our first board meeting (May 2008)
  • The publication of Holistic Servant-Leadership; and, The 2008 International Journal of Servant-Leadership (with Gonzaga University)–respectively, the first essay, and ongoing journal, produced under the aegis of The Spears Center (June 2008)
  • Participation in the first Global Servant-Leadership Research Roundtable, in The Netherlands (July 2008)
  • The start of my teaching of "Servant-Leadership," an online graduate course offered by Gonzaga University as part of its M.A. program in Organizational Leadership (August 2008)
  • Sponsoring and facilitating the first Servant-Leadership Writer’s Retreat (September 2008)
  • A careful review of the many suggestions and notes of encouragement that I have received from many of you since last December (October 2008)
  • Engagement in a process of reflection, inquiry, and planning (November 2008)
  • I have also written and published nine articles on servant-leadership that have appeared in five publications, including The International Journal of Servant-Leadership, The Diary of Alpha Kappa Psi, Spark, Road Map, and Servant-Leader News; and, a Foreword for the book, The OnTarget Board Member.
  • Throughout 2008, the completion of four manuscripts of books about servant-leadership
    1. Scanlon EPIC Leadership (Paul Davis and Larry Spears, Editors; Scanlon Leadership Foundation, book published in May 2008)
    2. The Spirit of Servant-Leadership (Shann R. Ferch and Larry Spears, Editors; manuscript completed in October 2008)
    3. Writings by Bill Bottum (title to be determined; Dorothy Lenz, George SanFacon, Larry Spears, Editors; manuscript completed in November 2008)
    4. Writings by John Donnelly (title to be determined; Paul Davis and Larry Spears, Editors; manuscript completed in December 2008)

At this time, we would like to cordially invite you to show your support of our past, present, and future work through the kindness of your financial contribution to The Spears Center.  Donations of any size will be gratefully received, used well, and much appreciated. 

The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership
Annual Giving Circles of Support

$1-$99……………………………………………Listening Circle
$100-$249………………………………………Empathy Circle
$250-$499………………………………………Healing Circle
$500-$1,499……………………………………Persuasion Circle
$1,500-$4,999…………………………………Stewardship Circle
$5,000 and higher…………………………….Foresight Circle

While we are not yet set up to accept contributions by credit card, your donation by check may be sent to:
(click here to print contribution page)

                                    The Spears Center
                                    329 Garden Grace Drive
                                    Indianapolis, IN  46239

Gifts to The Spears Center are deductible in computing Federal income tax.

It is my sincere hope that you might choose to answer this call to commitment by sending your donation to The Spears Center today.
Your support makes a difference.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,
Larry C. Spears, President & CEO
The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership

Dear Servant-Leader:

I like books of all kinds—particularly books having to do with servant-leadership.  I like to read them, write them, edit them, and review them.  I like the feel of a good book in my hands.  Why, I even like the smell of a newly-printed book, straight out of the carton! 

I have devoted a good bit of my life to helping to publish servant-leader writers, so that the idea of servant-leadership can grow and influence others.  That is why I am always delighted to be able to share the good news concerning significant new books on servant-leadership.

I have known Jamie Showkeir for many years—first in his capacity as a Greenleaf Center workshop presenter; later, as a friend and colleague.  Our wide-ranging conversations have sometimes focused upon our shared interests in servant-leadership and its potential significance for people with disabilities.  Robert K. Greenleaf’s last sentence of his “best test” of servant-leadership is, I believe, the most important one:  “What is the effect on the least privileged in society?  Will they benefit, or at least not be further deprived?” 

Both Jamie and his wonderful wife, Maren, are caring and authentic servant-leaders who have just published an important new book:   Authentic Conversations: Moving from Manipulation to Truth and Commitment (Berrett-Koehler, 2008, paper, 192 pages, $18.95).  View this link, Authentic Conversations to go to their book page on amazon.com.

Even servant-leaders are not immune to the dangers of manipulating conversations, or to abandoning their commitment to others.  For those who are open to its message, Authentic Conversations is a welcome tonic to the hidden agendas and collusive practices by leaders who are either unable or unwilling to engage in honest dialogue.

I agree with Jeff McCollum, whose review of the Showkeir’s book comes next:  Authentic Conversations is a powerful and important resource on how to create, “clear, clean communication that, in turn, drives business performance to higher and higher levels.”

Warm regards,


Larry C. Spears, President & CEO
The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership

Dear Servant Leader:

For some time now, I have felt called to gather a small group of servant-leader writers for a weekend retreat and workshop.  On September 26-28 I’m looking forward to making this particular dream a reality when The Spears Center will sponsor the first Servant-Leader Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in the beautiful Irish Hills region of Southern Michigan.  This event will be held at Sunnyside Retreat Center, 12100 Beech Rd., Brooklyn, Michigan.  The weekend will be a mix of group learning, quiet time for writing and reflection, and individual one-hour sessions.  My friend and colleague, George SanFacon, will provide morning meditations and onsite support.

Over the past twenty years I have written, edited, and published hundreds of articles, books, journals, and newsletters on servant-leadership; and, I have also worked closely with over one hundred contributing authors to these and other publications.  As editor and friend, I have counseled authors on a wide range of publishing questions, including clarifying core ideas, editing and strengthening articles and book manuscripts, facilitating introductions to book and magazine publishers, promotional aspects, and more.

The Servant-Leadership Writer’s Workshop & Retreat will be held at Sunnyside Retreat Center, located in a beautiful, natural wooded setting next to a lake.  Healthy meals will be served and participants will be asked to share in the preparation and clean up.  Basic sleeping accommodations are available in several separate and communal rooms.  There is also a small motel available about five miles from Sunnyside.  Participants will be limited to a maximum of eight people.

The registration fee is $500 and includes meals and sleeping accommodations at Sunnyside.  The structure for the weekend will be, as follows:schedule graphic

Sunnyside is an oasis of undisturbed nature in the Irish Hills of Michigan—a quiet lake, acres of ancient oaks and shagbark hickories and wild dogwoods.  It is the creation and home of Bernard and Dorothy Ann Coyne.  The timber-framed structures they built express their love of wood and their delight in fine artisanship.  Many talented friends collaborated in constructing an environment that is both beautiful and free of toxic materials.  Dormitory-style sleeping arrangements, with all bed and bath linens, are provided.  The gourmet vegetarian food is lovingly prepared from organic produce. 

This is a unique opportunity.  If this interests you, I invite you to contact me at 317.416.8218 or email at lspears@spearscenter.org.

Warm regards,


Larry C. Spears, President & CEO
The Spears Center for Servant-Leadership

Dear Servant Leader:

There is so much good news to share this month! I would like to lead off with hearty congratulations to several dear friends and exemplary servant-leaders who have just published two significant new books.

George SanFacon (gasanfan@umich.edu) is a name familiar to many of you. For two decades, he served as Director of the Housing Facilities Department at the University of Michigan, where he pioneered implementing a council-of-equals approach to governance and management using consensus decision-making. The organization was nationally recognized for its culture, innovation, and effectiveness.

Today, George is a part-time caretaker and host at a private retreat center in Michigan, and an executive coach who is active in the environmental movement. He has published A Conscious Person’s Guide to the Workplace (130 pages, $18, Trafford Publishing, http://cl.exct.net/?qs=960421fedd295a1744851a9a810bf003b35d73ebd3c04729c456e28744b90bba ), a unique compendium and practical resource for creating workplaces that evoke and engage the human spirit in pursuit of a world that works for all. (photos below left to right: George SanFacon and front book cover) 

    Book Cover

From the back cover— “Distilled from over four decades of workplace experience, SanFacon provides an integrative approach using concepts and principles that have been field-tested and proven to work. This remarkable guide offers sage advice useful for all who aspire to servant-leadership: ‘Hold the concepts and principles as compass and guide, then deal openly and forthrightly with whatever arises.’ Through this process, workplaces become enterprises where people ‘show up’ to co-create the kind of experiences, organizations and world that are right, good, and desirable.”

George and I have recently co-authored an essay, “Holistic Servant-Leadership,” and we will be leading the first Servant-Leadership Writer’s Workshop and Retreat in Michigan, September 26-28, 2008. [See information on that in this newsletter.]

Another important work now available is Servant-Leadership: Bringing the spirit of work to work (213 pages, Management Books 2000, http://cl.exct.net/?qs=a7fc9c456ca10aeefcbd19638faf61ce1e99d27a5dfb1dff8978dcfc32a6cfc0 ; Ralph Lewis and John Noble, Editors).

Ralph Lewis (ralph.lewis@virgin.net) and John Noble (http://cl.exct.net/?qs=ffe128c05d116e41f5e5137c1739ba64399b9c7391edf680bbf35d40c87213b9 ) co-founded the Greenleaf Centre-United Kingdom in 1997. Both of them are longtime friends of mine, and I have collaborated with each of them over the years. John and I have been co-presenters and workshop leaders together in both the U.K. and the U.S. Ralph and I have recently co-authored an article on “Myers-Briggs and Servant-Leadership,” which appears in the 2008 International Journal of Servant-Leadership (and an excerpt in this newsletter), and we both presented earlier this month at the Global Servant-Leadership Research Forum that was held at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. (photos below left to right: front book cover, Ralph Lewis and John Noble)

  Photo of Ralph Lewis   Photo of John Noble

Servant-Leadership: Bringing the spirit of work to work is a wonderful collection of thirteen essays and interviews on servant-leadership. Contributing authors are from the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, and the United States. They include James Autry, Lance Bloch, Charlie Foote, Jan Gunnarsson and Olle Bloom, Bob Henry, Jaap Huttenga, Ralph Lewis, Jane Little, Terri McNerney, John Noble, George SanFacon, Henry Stewart, and Andrew Walsh.

From the back cover— “This book is a collection of writings by leading practitioners in the field of servant-leadership. It sets out to explain the principles, and to show how they can be put into practice, to the benefit of all concerned. The surprise, to some people, is that businesses that adopt these principles become more successful and more profitable than those that don’t. This book explains how, and why.”

I invite you to explore the wonderful ideas and inspiration that is to be found in both A Conscious Person’s Guide to the Workplace, and Servant-Leadership: Bringing the spirit of work to work.

Three friends. Two books. One world.

Warm regards,


Larry C. Spears President & CEO

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