The NCSL Blog


By Julie Lays

Nashville—There's an old saying: “If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you.”

Vicki ClarkLegislatures were established by servant leaders. But in the age of selfies, insta-influencers and immediate gratification, it’s easy to forget why servant leadership matters.

During the session "Public Service in the Selfie Age" at the Legislative Summit on Tuesday, Vicki Clark, a dynamic, funny, inspiring leadership consultant from Memphis, Tenn., discussed what servant leadership is and how too many of our current leaders miss the mark.

She also discussed the practice of servant leadership, why it leads to success and how it can strengthen the legislative institution.

According to Clark, servant leaders:

  • Have different priorities than most leaders.
  • Admit they make mistakes and don’t have all the answers.
  • Give credit and show respect to others.
  • Value relationships and don’t bully.
  • Listen and empathize.
  • Admit they are not perfect.
  • Prioritize the needs of others.
  • Favor shared power structures and presuppose everyone has the potential to lead. It’s a model that’s tailor-made for representative democracy.

Julie Lays is editor of State Legislatures magazine.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.