Maintaining community in the face of conflict, negotiating healthy interpersonal dynamics, and striving intentionally for an equitable distribution of power are all tenets of servant-leadership, a conceptually simple philosophy: those who lead, serve. Breaking away from traditional models of hierarchical authority, servant-leaders facilitate the livelihood of their group by assessing their specific needs, by sharing not just responsibilities and tasks, but also the larger vision and mission, and by providing a secure and welcoming environment to foster open, dynamic conversation.
What We Offer
The Gabriel Center, ("the Center") a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a community of people dedicated to shared leadership based on respect and inclusion for all. The Center's purpose is to help individuals and organizations develop a servant-leader approach to life and work. Through participatory experience-based education and training, we develop skills, understanding, unity, and empowerment for those whom we serve as individuals, communities and organizations.
Throughout the ages and throughout the world, people have wrestled with how to best get along with each other and evolve together. Great leaders-from Confucius to Christ, from Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr., to Mother Teresa-have responded to this challenge by proclaiming that serving others is the highest call, the truest form, paradoxically, of leadership. Serving others, they have told us again and again, is the key to relating to each other in productive, peaceful, and meaningful ways. Out of these questions and convictions, the philosophy of servant-leadership was born. The Gabriel Center 's purpose is to provide educational resources to make servant-leadership a reality. The Gabriel Center first began as the Servant-Leader Development Center (S-LDC) in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1998. The non-profit's purpose was to build capacities in individuals and organizations for a practical approach to leadership through service. The founders understood that a servant-leader vision without new skills is empty, and mere skills without the transforming vision of servant-leadership are shallow. Through its psychology-based Resource Guides, specially created and published by its sister organization Servant-Leader Publications for use by individuals, facilitators and coaches, the Center enables any individual or group to balance the theories and skills of servant-leadership. Under its new name and in its new location in Marietta, Georgia in metropolitan Atlanta, the Gabriel Center carries forward the original mission and vision of S-LDC. Corporate clients, not-for-profit organizations, government agencies, and community groups across the nation have worked with the Center.
Experience is the heart of adult learning. Servant-leadership began to enter the business realm when Robert Greenleaf, an AT&T corporate executive charged with workforce training, wrote about a leadership style that he was promoting within that organization. In 1970, he popularized the term servant-leadership in his now internationally known essay, "The Servant as Leader," in which he states: The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant to make sure that other people's highest priority needs are being served. The best test is: Do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? Earlier in 1934, Greenleaf had already documented the concept that most adults learn primarily through experience and that learners themselves were the most powerful resource for learning, even though most training and educational approaches at that time still emphasized theory. His early insight influenced educator Kurt Lewin and his colleagues at a 1946 conference in which the connection between group learning and establishing a collaborative approach, which is a core component of servant-leadership, began to be understood more clearly. Parallel to Greenleaf's work at AT&T, the Mid-Atlantic Association for Training and Consulting (MATC) began in the 1960's to offer educational training conferences in the applied human behavioral sciences for hundreds of individuals and groups throughout the mid-Atlantic region. A core component to MATC's training was the conviction that human beings learn not through experience alone but through reflection upon experience.
The Gabriel Center brings together the vision, concept, and philosophy of servant-leadership with the applied human behavioral science skill training in the disciplines it takes to live and work as a servant leader. These disciplines include a deepening of personal awareness, active listening, giving and receiving feedback, conflict resolution, understanding small group dynamics, casting a vision, getting others on board, and serving as an agent of change. With the Gabriel Center's guidance and training, participants have made the vision of servant-leadership real in their own lives, both personally and professionally. The Center incorporates servant-leader principles developed by Robert Greenleaf, Peter Senge, Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard, Margaret Wheatley, and others who have written much about collaborative forms of leadership. Further, the Gabriel Center focuses first on the personal transformation of the individual to affect group change. From faith-based communities to the workplace to a group of curious individuals, anyone can benefit from the teachings and principles of servant-leadership: workshops and training sessions can be tailored to suit the group at any point in its existence or any interested individual seeking to deepen his or her personal understanding. In addition to church settings in metropolitan areas of Washington and Atlanta, S-LDC and the Gabriel Center have worked with such civic groups as the American Red Cross, the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington, D.C., and Rotary clubs in Northern Virginia. We look forward to hearing how we may serve you or someone you know.