07-11-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

07-11-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders

07-11-24 A Letter From Our Servant Leaders 1200 1200 SVDP USA

At a recent leadership development retreat for our national Youth, Young Adult and Emerging Leaders group, I provided a session on leadership lessons I have learned (some painfully!) over 11 years as the Society’s National CEO and more than 40 years leading mostly nonprofits.

It became apparent in our conversation that these lessons don’t benefit just young leaders, but to a great extent all leaders. Some take on Society leadership because they were good followers and workers, or because they were the first to raise their hand and volunteer. Neither of these guarantee that a person will, or won’t, lead others well. I wonder sometimes if some of our new leaders have ever led anywhere before now! So, whether you are reading this column at 16 or 60 years old, perhaps these lessons can benefit you on your own leadership learning journey. Here they are, briefly:

  1. Don’t confuse Leadership with Money or Fame. Leadership may be thankless.
  2. Anyone can be a Leader — start now! You can begin from anywhere — no excuses.
  3. Hire/recruit people smarter than you, then let them flourish. Always scout for talent.
  4. Use your entire “leadership toolbox”; apply lessons learned from anywhere and anytime.
  5. Use mentors, and then become one. No one is an island! Pay it back.
  6. Don’t let Perfect be the enemy of Good. Keep moving ahead, and adjust as you go.
  7. Always see and play the long game. Think months, even years ahead.
  8. Your job as a leader is not to Do, but to Get Things Done. (And to Keep the Group Together.)
  9. Work to be a good Follower. It helps you understand how to be a better Leader.
  10. Listen, then speak. Listen more than you speak.

I’m sure that a leadership author could write a separate book on each of the above lessons, and in some cases they probably have. I assume that Vincentians are too busy serving people to read 10 books! Therefore, please make do with just the list. You might choose just five that you need to work on to sharpen your skills. Master those, and recruit for the other five!

Here are some characteristics of Good Leaders. They:

  1. Keep learning, formally and informally. Read constantly — trends, different perspectives, etc. that may inform their work.
  2. Find ways to elevate others and help them to grow.
  3. Know a little about a lot, instead of a lot about a little.
  4. Constantly connect the dots. Everything can relate to, and possibly support, everything else if you look hard enough.

If you are the type that feels that you must read a book to learn more legitimately about leadership, here are my favorite books on the topic, all readily available and very readable:

In my upcoming retirement, maybe I’ll expound on all this with my own book. If I do, I know it will have plenty of great leadership examples from our SVDP Council and Conferences and the wonderful volunteers who step up to lead them in service to God and people in need. That should be a book worth reading!

Yours in Christ,
Dave Barringer
National CEO

  • Thank you..

  • Great post Dave and never too early or late to follow wisdom like that!

  • I hope you do decide to write a book Dave. I am sure it will be good one!

  • Great letter Dave! An invaluable resource for the potential leader is “Hamster Revolution for Meetings, Mike Song, Vickie Halsey, and Tim Burress (Bennet-Koehler Inc. 2009)”.

  • Dave,
    Thank you for all you do and for sharing these thoughts. I have passed onto all our council leadership and pray that we all keep these lessons in mind.

    God bless,
    Cathy Crisp

  • Mary Kathryn Stenzel July 12, 2024 at 10:10 am

    Thank you for leadership skills you have shared through your service to SVDP Society.
    Your future endeavors will continue to serve volunteers everywhere.
    Prayers for your continued success.

  • Insightful as ever, yet concise. Dave it has been a pleasure to be part of the SVdP organization/team!


    P.S.Looking forward to your book, if you get around to it. You deserve to do as you wish for a while.

  • Thank you, Dave, for nurturing us – as Vincentians & leaders. Your example has been admired.
    All the best,

  • Annettte Giaquinto July 18, 2024 at 9:18 am

    Thank you for focusing on leadership and sharing what you have learned.
    For me, Jesus is the ultimate model of leadership as He came to serve others (not be served).

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