Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries

Leaders as Servants: An Approach Contrarian to the Power-Based Model

Charles C. Krueger

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874608.ch1

When asked to write this chapter, I reflected upon my past work experiences in fishery science and management as an employee of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, as a professor at Cornell University, during two brief terms of employment with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska while on sabbatical leaves, as a commissioner and later an employee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and, finally, as a professor at Michigan State University. Within these organizations, I routinely exercised leadership through policy development and decision making affecting the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of fishery resources. During these work experiences, my supervisors used various leadership styles. Some supervisors were outstanding leaders who led, guided, mentored, and encouraged me, and not surprisingly, others were less so. Also, I regularly had opportunities to lead, mentor, and encourage others around me with whom I had relationships. Leadership opportunities for me came in the office, classroom, and field, as a course instructor, member or chair of graduate committees, and supervisor and sometimes simply as a colleague or friend. Leadership opportunities occurred, as well, within my personal life as a husband, father, and friend within my family, neighborhood, and church. Sometimes I was successful, and sometimes not so much.

In addition to reflecting on my past, I interviewed fishery science and management colleagues, former employees, and personal friends about what they viewed as ideal qualities of leaders. Partway through this process, I discovered that the interviewees consistently were identifying personality characteristics that were identical or comparable to those used to describe what is termed “a servant leader.” Upon this discovery, I described to my final few interviewees the connection of their comments to the concept of a servant leader. Most interpreted the phrase as paradoxical to contradictory, had not heard of it, and were puzzled by these two terms being used together. I concluded that at least among my limited number of contacts, the concept may be little known within the fishery science and management community. Thus, I decided to focus on the topic of servant leader in this chapter. My hope is that the chapter will be useful to others and perhaps a new concept for some.