In this past year in retrospect, the first year of my Bush Fellowship, my understanding of leadership has changed. I have been doing my dissertation prospectus and reading about Servant Leadership theory that was created by Robert Greenleaf in 1977. One of the questions posed to me by the chair of my committee Dr. Patricia Loun, was “is this theory the same as Indigenous Lakota Leadership” (Personal Communication, Loun 2015). Greenleaf says that his theory came to him through his intuition the Lakota refer to intuition as Nagi Ksape, which in translated as the wisdom that comes from the spirit. Greenleaf (1977) was influenced by a Philosopher named Hermann Hesse, who wrote a book called “Journey to the East”, in this book the protagonist was a man named Leo who was a man who functioned as a servant to the crew who were on a journey, during the journey Leo gets lost, with his loss, the crew becomes confused and disoriented and later disburses. Later, one of the crewmembers finds Leo; he finds that Leo was the leader of the organization that was financing the journey. This is similar to Lakota culture where an Itachan (Chief) would lead his life in a humble way.
I found some remarkable correlations between Lakota leadership and servant leadership. The servant leader has a vision for the future, and he knows the direction and how to get there, as Greenleaf (1977) says the leader has the ability to know the unknowable, and for see the unforeseeable. In leadership we have to make decisions and most of the time we don’t have all the information according to Greenleaf (1977) there is a gap, where we walk in uncharted waters, knowing which direction to go puts the leader out front. This is called the ability to for see and be proactive, one Lakota leader, who was once a star basketball player said “ if you are in a basketball game and you are looking at the score board, and reacting then, you are already losing the game” (Lunderman 2014). According to Greenleaf (1977), if events start to force leaders’ hands, then they are no longer leaders they are reacting to events. The ability to for see and be proactive is positive attributes according to Greenleaf’s theory and Lakota leadership. The great Hochunk leader Rueben Snake in his documentary “Your humble Serpent” states that Indigenous people are intuitive thinkers, this comes from living in an environment that is unpredictable. According to Greenleaf (1977), the leader is working on two levels one the here and now, and the other in the unconscious which makes up the past present and future, having fore sight is the ability to see on these two planes or levels.
A Lakota Lawyer named Steve Emery stated that the Lakota leader needs to begin with a love for relatives; this is the foundation of Lakota Leadership. Greenleaf (1977) talks about the problems of the world, when a servant leader see problems in the world he or she begins working on himself, or her. The healing begins within, the problems are not out there, when one develops his or her inner qualities they have a positive impact on all of the people around them. Greenleaf (1977) talks about the pyramid or hierarchy, which he refers to as abnormal and corrupting, he says when someone is put on top of a pyramid he is alone, he no longer has equals, but subordinates, he says even the most courageous of employees does not talk to someone on top the same way they would have a conversation with someone on an equal level. Greenleaf (1977) says people on top suffer from a very real loneliness because nobody is real with them, they don’t hear the informal dialogue, they only hear from second hand accounts. These are just a few similarities with Lakota Leadership that I want to explore in my dissertation.
I spent a couple days in Brooklyn NY, at the Center for Court Innovation, they are using Peace Making in an urban setting, they invited me to participate in their Peace Making Training. It was good to participate in the training with 30 other Peace Makers from the Red Hook area in Brooklyn. CCI has been using Indigenous Peace Making for the last three years and they have been having some positive results. I also participated in a Retreat with the American Friends Service Committee in Chester CT, they are in the process of developing a Healing and Transformative Justice Center and they asked me to be on the Advisory committee. I was able to network with about 10 new people this time.
An Oglala Tribal member a former Military Officer provided a leadership training on the reservation, during the training she provided us with a self-inventory. I found I was an Extroverted feeling with Introverted Intuition (EFII also known as the Giver.) The inventory said this type of person has excellent people skills, they have the ability to make people do exactly what they want them to do, care needs to be taken so as not to manipulate them. They often place peoples’ needs ahead of their own, this is good for Servant and Lakota leadership, the inventory also stated, they are a catalyst for change. People love being with EFII people because they are fun to be with and truly understand and love people. They are straightforward and honest, have a lot of self-confidence and can do many different things. They are generally bright, full of potential and good at anything that captures their interest. They like things to be well organized, they do well in dealing with other people, they are naturals for the social committee, and they are natural counselors. They enjoy being the center of attention, they do well in situations where they can inspire people and lead others such as teaching. They have good verbal communication skills, very perceptive about people’s thoughts; they want lifelong relationships and strive for win-win situations. Natural leaders, always naturally falling into leadership positions in the community. Some negative aspects include over protective, tendency to be controlling or manipulative, don’t pay attention to their own needs, tend to be critical of opinions and attitudes which are different from their own. Sometime unaware of social appropriateness or protocol. Extremely sensitive to conflict situations, tendency to sweep things under the rug. Tendency to blame themselves when things go wrong, and not give themselves credit when things go right.