#3 Servant Leadership in the CIA

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This past Thursday, Butler University had the honor of hosting Dennis Bowden.  He has served as a CIA officer and manager for more than twenty years.  In his career he started from the bottom and worked his way up.

Bowden went to college not thinking he would one day be leading people within one of the largest intelligent agencies in the country.  He started out as a first line supervisor and moved up all the way to fourth line supervisor.  He even had the responsibility of giving the President’s Daily Intelligence Briefing.

Since Bowden was in charge of several people throughout his career in the CIA, he gave the audience a few pointers on leadership. However, it was not any kind of leadership, this was servant leadership.  Servant leadership is about serving the needs of others, and that is what Bowden explained to his audience.  Though he worked for the United States, he put an emphasis on the fact that he was not just serving the United States but all of his fellow employees as well.

There were three points that stood out the most during his presentation.  1) If you do not feel comfortable with something, tell someone.  If that does not work, it is okay to leave.  This point is a big one!  No one should be forced to work in a situation where they do not have a voice or if they do not agree with the situation in which they are working.  Bowden put a huge emphasis on this point.   2) Mistakes.  People make them all the time, and it is okay to make them.  No mistake that one can make is better than not making excuses for ones actions.  People do learn from mistakes, so it is okay to make them.  A learning experience can be made from a mistake.  3) It is okay to not know everything.  This point ties in with the second point, because one can make a mistake if one does not know all of the information.

Servant leadership is something everyone should know and display.  As a student I display servant leadership by doing the assignments my professors assign to me, and doing them without giving them a hard time.  This action is also displayed early on in children, by not defying their parents.  Servant leadership can serve as a learning tool, and is something everyone should start displaying.

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