Our Pastor started his sermon this week with this question – Who was your favorite teacher?

This was intriguing, as I did not think back to the easiest, the most lenient, or even the college professor who canceled class more often than not.  Instead my mind immediately went to the teacher whom had the greatest impact on my life and helped mold me to the person I am today.

It was Dr. Thomas Schildgen a professor I had at Illinois State University.  He had the true heart of a servant leader, was extremely competent, was a great coach & listener, valued every relationship, walked the talk, and had impeccable character.  My leadership point of view was very much influenced by Dr. Schildgen.

This made me think, what if I were to ask those within my sphere of influence whom their favorite leader was?  Would I be considered?  Not because it is a competition I want to win, but it would be a great check on whether I am an effective leader?  Do I regularly share our Purpose, Vision, and Values? Do people know how much I value their work? Am I setting high enough expectations? Am I fostering relationships? Do my actions mirror my words?

It’s a good practice to be vulnerable and reflect on how you are doing as leader.  I would encourage asking your direct reports these questions:

  • Am I delivering on my commitments to you?
  • Do I provide consistent and respectful feedback to you?
  • Am I truthful in my dealings with you?
  • Do you feel comfortable telling me disappointing news?
  • Am I challenging you to find ways to improve our business?
  • Am I staying true to our stated values?
  • Have I been an effective coach for you?

Once you ask these questions, and get feedback be sure to act on their suggestions! If you don’t truly have plans to improve and act on their suggestions, please don’t ask the questions.

One of the most rewarding parts of being a servant leader is the opportunity to have the same impact on individuals within your sphere of influence that Dr. Schildgen had on me.  By focusing on constantly improving how well you are serving the needs of others, you will positively impact their lives, and you will certainly come to people’s minds when asked who was their favorite leader.

Who was your favorite teacher or leader, and more importantly why?


The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. Ecclesiastes 12:10