From a young age, thousands of miles away from the United States, I found inspiration in the leadership of John F. Kennedy. His courage during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the resonance of his words — “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” — became a guiding mantra in my life. My father, a staunch admirer of JFK’s leadership, instilled this call to action within me, shaping my aspirations and commitment to public service.
As I grew older, JFK’s words transitioned from being a guiding principle to a call for service, pushing me to a path of servant leadership. A path that ultimately led me to the “Senior Executives in State and Local Government” program at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Walking the halls of Harvard, and seeing JFK’s quote inscribed on the walls, was a humbling reminder of my commitment to serve. The program offered more than just an education — it was a transformational journey that equipped me with the tools and insights needed to better serve my community and become a more impactful leader.
Under the direction of esteemed faculty such as David King, Marty Linsky, and Steve Kadish, I learned the value of diverse perspectives, innovative problem-solving techniques, and strategic planning methods. Moreover, the program placed a strong emphasis on personal leadership development, which aided me in identifying my strengths and weaknesses and becoming a more adaptive, resilient leader.
Returning to my organization, the lessons from Harvard became the cornerstone of my leadership. By incorporating strategic decision-making processes, fostering an inclusive environment, and promoting a culture of innovation, we’ve made great strides in serving our community more effectively.
One of the key lessons that Harvard taught me was the importance of partnerships and collaboration. By leveraging the connections made during the program, I have established alliances that have benefited our organization and the community we serve through valuable information sharing, resources, and best practices.
In reflection, JFK’s words and the Harvard program have served as constant sources of inspiration, shaping me into the servant leader I am today. I remain committed to embodying these lessons and inspiring others to do the same so that together, we can create a better world for all.
So, I pose the question to you, dear readers: What can you do? How can you embody the spirit of servant leadership in your life? Let JFK’s words and the transformative Harvard experience inspire you. Answer the call to action and dedicate yourself to creating positive change in your communities and beyond. Together, we can continue to build upon the successes of past leaders and pave the way for a more just, equitable, and prosperous world for all.