How To Be a Leader From Within


Jose Aviles is working on building the leaders of tomorrow, starting with focusing on others.


Servant leadership is less about you and more about others. Servant leadership is a term that has its roots in many biblical contexts. The concept of servant leadership starts with self-sacrifice and putting the needs of those you lead first. Servant leaders must focus on the wellbeing and growth of their followers.

servant leadership can be an altruistic concept which betters society which in turn can benefit you directly or indirectly …
People will not follow a leader until he/she shows genuine interest in them. The reason why servant leadership is so essential is the fact that it is at the very root of social change at a global level. Lets take the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela for example. Their influence is felt worldwide and will be for decades and millennia to come. I am not saying you have to be assassinated or imprisoned for 27 years to effect change. We all can effect change in many ways, such as mentoring a young child, recycling trash, cleaning up a neighborhood park, tutoring after school, helping a soup kitchen, etc. Ultimately servant leadership can be an altruistic concept which betters society which in turn can benefit you directly or indirectly such as when people talk about making the world a better place for their children.


I had a conversation with a Dean at a certain university that was running a young men’s conference that focused on concepts like education and employment. There was a women’s panel where a group of educated and successful women talked about what they expect in a Man. The conference was amazing as well as informative.

At the conference a person approached and asked why I was so concerned with educating young men and providing them with guidance through the various programs I provide. I could not find an answer, beside the fact that it made me feel good. This person hypothesized that my concern with young men went deeper than that. I still could not understand what he meant. He then asked me if I had a daughter, I said yes, she was 9 at the time. He then went on to say that the reason I was concerned with these young men was that fact that I wanted to teach and mold as many young men as possible so that in the future I can provide as many viable candidates for my daughter as possible. I was not sure whether to be offended or to thank him. You see Servant Leadership in the end can benefit you in many ways; it can just be the interpretation of the reward that may need to change.

Why should suburban municipalities need to be concerned about what happens in the city? Because, if issues like poverty and crime are not addressed at its root, it will eventually find its way into their neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, American culture interferes with the concept of servant leadership. Our music, literature and movies focus on instant gratification. We live in a time where everyone is an instant celebrity, a part of the “Selfie” Generation on Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Twitter etc.

John Paul Tilrow at ReadWrite states that there are over 90 million selfies on Instagram. Kate Knibbs at ( says that “Selfies are the social media equivalent of junk food and we’ve given ourselves Instagram Diabetes” Working in education for many years I have seen fads come and go but one thing always seems to remain consistent and that is our appetite to feel and be noticed.

High school is a place where Darwin and Freud collide with the power of an atom bomb…
Adults have a difficult time dealing with these concepts so teaching teenagers to be less self-serving can feel like we just have been tasked to move Mount Rushmore. Maybe it is part of our innate nature that has developed over millennia through evolutionary processes which encourage such flamboyant behavior. High school is a place where Darwin and Freud collide with the power of an atom bomb, where that powerful drive to pass down you DNA from one generation to the next bonds with the Super Ego. Add to that the teenage monster, which has enough estrogen and testosterone to fill several Olympic size swimming pools. My question is how do we get these evolutionary freaks of nature to care for one another?

According to Ken Blanchard, what keeps people from becoming servant leaders is ego. He goes on to state that our ego disrupts our path to servant leadership in a couple of ways. The first way is false pride. We begin to ask ourselves how do we take credit for what we are doing? As opposed to how do we ensure that who we are serving is getting what they need? Though much of Blachard’s work focuses on administration we can apply this to students.

The second way ego interferes with servant leadership is insecurity. Fearing that your short comings may become the focal point of conversation, when taking a back seat may be necessary but we become more focused on winning versus being effective, and the perception of losing become something that we must avoid at all cost.

American culture encourages individuality but does so at what expense. We indulge in so many unhealthy practices that put ourselves first and the interest of others a distant second.

As Mahatma Gandi put it so eloquently, “as human beings, our greatness lays not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” He goes on to state that “a nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people. You will find yourself in service to your fellow Man, your country, and your God.”

Fundamentally developing a Nation that cares begins and ends with the individual. Before we can start teaching the concept of servant leadership to our children we must delve deep into ourselves and come to the realization that we first must lead by example before we can truly become servant leaders. To break the cycle of this self-serving culture we must transform it from the inside out, cultivating a sense of self-sacrifice. So in essence when we serve others we are essentially serving ourselves and to that end we have come full circle.

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Dr. Aviles is also the author of Peer Mentorship in High School, visit his website at


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