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Leading through Authenticity and Service

By Amy Weisensee

My first official job was as a custodian at my high school during the summer months. The work consisted of various monotonous tasks that included deep cleaning classrooms, painting walls, pulling weeds, and more. After completing a task, no matter the labor, I valued the feeling of accomplishment, and took pride in the work my colleagues and I had done to keep our school clean and presentable. However, from the outside perspective, the work easily went unnoticed. Naturally, I felt frustrated. I thought to myself: “how could you not notice the pulled weeds and fresh coat of paint?”

I took a step back and looked at the bigger picture, and I thought of the full-time custodians. How many times throughout the school year had they done the same work as me with little-to-no recognition?

Prior to that experience, I viewed leadership as a cookie-cutter and hierarchical system, only seeing leaders as outgoing people with fancy titles. I quickly realized that leadership presents itself in a variety of forms. The beauty of leadership is that it can transform and take different shapes to fit a situation. The custodians in my school modeled servant-minded leadership. Though “custodian” is not the fanciest title, their work was abundant with qualities of a good leader: humility, diligence, grace, integrity, and service.

I was inspired to become a servant-minded leader. This experience opened my eyes as an opportunity to educate people that leadership goes beyond the title and can be expressed in our everyday lives. The biggest lesson I learned was to not ask someone to do something that I am unwilling to do myself. Being a custodian allowed me to be a leader with more empathy, humility, and compassion.

Throughout the Fellowship, I hope to carry those same attributes I acquired as a custodian and lead with authenticity and service. I am grateful that El Pomar Foundation is a continual reminder that the work I will do goes beyond myself. Leading life with a servant-minded approach will enable me to make a larger impact. And to think – this perspective shift all started with maintenance work.

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