Servant Leadership


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  • online
  • on demand

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Who should attend

  • Informal or formal leaders at any level in an organization
  • Religious and faith-based leaders
  • Humanitarian, non-profit, and NGO leaders
  • Anyone who is part of a work team and can influence others

About the course

What is a leader? We often think of a leader as someone who is in charge of people, products, or processes. But what about the person on the team who everyone looks to when the boss is gone or when advice is needed? That person is a leader too.

Leaders can have formal power or responsibilities, or they can simply be a person of influence. Regardless of role, research indicates that effective, successful leaders are those with strong character and the ability to lead with courage, humility, and compassion. Fortunately, character is not something we are just “born with.” Character is something that can be developed over time. In this program, you will have the opportunity to explore seven dimensions of leadership that are associated with strong character through case studies and examples. You will also complete self-reflection exercises, assessments, and activities to initiate and continue the work of developing these character dimensions.

In addition to developing your leadership character, this certificate provides you with skills needed to enhance your credibility as a leader and consider the power of both perception and experience as you build a culture of service leadership.

Ultimately, you will take the first steps on a lifetime journey of developing the character that will enable you to be the best leader you can be.

NOTE: This program includes a copy of Amy Newman's ebook, Building Leadership Character (California: Sage, 2019). You will receive instructions about how to access the ebook when you join the course. If you prefer to purchase a hard copy of the book we suggest you do so before the start of the course. The book is available for purchase online or at other retailers.


Building Leadership Character

Leaders make the headlines on a regular basis – for their successes and their gaffes. After a particularly awful decision makes the news, do you ever wonder how that person could make such a dumb mistake? Mistakes and successes don’t happen in a vacuum. They are generally a culmination of decisions and actions the leader makes. But where do those decisions come from? Almost always, the leader’s character plays a role in decision-making and communications.

In this course, you will take the first steps on a lifetime journey of developing the character that will enable you to be the leader you envision.

Authenticity, Integrity, and Accountability

Trust is an essential element in character and how you are perceived by others. The character dimensions authenticity, integrity, and accountability are intertwined with your ability to build trusting relationships. In this course, we will discuss how to develop these character dimensions which will, in turn, help you build trusting relationships and become an effective leader.

Completion of the course Building Leadership Character is required prior to starting this course.

Courage, Humility, and Compassion

Strong leaders are self-confident. They know and are comfortable with themselves and have an appropriate understanding of their knowledge and skills. Strong leaders’ confidence and character inspire others to follow the leaders and to reach beyond themselves.

In this course, you will work to develop the three character dimensions of courage, humility, and compassion. On the surface, these dimensions may seem contradictory (humility and courage?). However, through the following lessons, you will see how developing resilience for courage, willfulness for humility, and strength for compassion work together to create a leader of strong character.

Completion of the course Building Leadership Character is required prior to starting this course.

Developing a Culture of Empowerment

In this course, you will focus on the key organizational processes that support the development of a strong service culture and exceptional customer service. You will be provided with a number of tools that enable you to select employees who have a strong service orientation and who will be a good fit with organizational values. The processes of orientation and socialization are examined as two powerful means of communicating service standards. You will then examine the benefits of a team-centered, collaborative culture and discuss strategies to facilitate and reward team performance. You will discuss organizational citizenship behavior using specific practices that support continuous on-the-job “training that sticks.” You will wrap up the course by designing an orientation program for new service employees that takes into consideration service-focused principles and practices.

Leading With Credibility

Managers who are seen practicing what they preach and following through on promises enjoy dramatically enhanced credibility and loyalty. They inspire workers to perform well and even to go beyond what is asked of them. Credibility is not all it takes to be successful, but no trust or meaningful relationship with those you manage can happen without it.

This course, developed by Professor Tony Simons, Ph.D. of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, focuses on this critical element of leadership, and helps students develop the awareness, skills and habits necessary for mastering it.

Key course takeaways

  • Practice honest self-reflection to develop your leadership character
  • Develop trusting relationships through authenticity, integrity, and accountability
  • Improve interpersonal confidence by demonstrating courage, humility, and compassion
  • Implement performance management practices that reinforce service leadership
  • Develop and practice the communication skills to manage your own credibility and foster the same in others


Judi Brownell

Judi Brownell is a professor at the School of Hotel Administration. She teaches courses in organizational behavior and management communication. Brownell has international teaching experience and her on-line eCornell executive courses are taken worldwide. Brownell''s research projects include stu...

Amy Newman

Amy Newman is a senior lecturer of management communication at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. She teaches the core undergraduate and graduate communication courses and an elective, Corporate Communication. Newman is author of Business Communication: In Person, In Print, Online (Cenga...

Tony Simons

Professor Tony Simons teaches organizational behavior, negotiation and leadership at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. His research examines trust–employee trust in leaders, executive team member trust, and trust in supply chain relationships. Simons''s research has focused on how well ...

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Servant Leadership at eCornell

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