“Servant Leadership for Schools” into action!

CONVENZIONE n° 2019-1-IT01-KA202-007398

A cura di Giuseppina Pinello

Images taken from pexels
Website http://www.servantleadership.it

Articolo in Italiano qui


Greenleaf (1970) stated that servant leadership is a calling and a way of life. He says that true leadership emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others. It aims at putting the well-being of the followers before other goals. Servant leaders develop people, helping them to strive and flourish.

Servant leadership is a belief that organizational goals will be achieved on a long term basis only by first facilitating the growth, development and general well-being of the individuals who comprise the organization. It is therefore a leadership style that emphasizes that leaders should be attentive to the concerns of their followers and empathize with them; they should take care of them and nurture them.  The best test of the leader is whether those served grow as individuals and whether while being served they become healthier, wiser and more capable themselves to become servant leaders. Servant leadership theory as an ethical style in leadership and management is quite important among leadership styles and can be regarded as one of the ideal styles in managing human resources.
Servant leadership practises create a supportive, respectful and demanding environment, which foster determination and growth mindset in learners. The servant leadership theory and practice in education has powerful and promising implications as it aims at collaborative success, instead of competitions and league tables. It also clarifies the role of a teacher, first and foremost, as a servant and promotes a growth mindset in teachers, and expects them to model character building in their capacity of leading students.


Servant leadership for Schools is an Erasmus Plus project coordinated by “Pietro Piazza” Vocational school in Palermo in collaboration with ETIC Escola de Tecnologias in Lisbon, Adi association of teachers and headmasters based in Italy and two schools in Poland, Zespol Szkol Administracyjno-Ekonomicznych of Gdynia and Zespol Szkol Gastronomiczno-Hotelarskich in Gdansk.

In 2020, during the worst pandemic period, a restricted group of servant leaders were trained with the help of on line activites. In 2020defi the servant leaders started working within their working groups to create a learning path for students about entrepreneurial competences.  Luckily in October 2021 we were able to travel and we had a staff training event in presence in Lisbon. The aim of the staff training event was to train teachers to perform the pilot test of the entrepreneurial learning path.


Teachers from schools involved in the project and two ADi members met on the 25th October in Lisbon to briefly summarize the works produced so far and to arrange dissemination activities. They also scheduled the next activities of the project and organised the staff training events. In the afternoon they defined the main aspects relating to the eTwinning project.



On 27th October 2021, Portuguese and Polish teachers together with three Italian teachers from Palermo and three Italian teachers from ADI met for the staff training event. Teachers led and tried different activities that will be performed back home with students. In this article we focus on some of the activities performed by the teachers. They are linked to the EntreComp framework

On Wednesday morning Polish teachers from Gdansk carried out the first module of the learning path “Team building” which refers to “Entrecomp area: Resources”. Participants were divided into groups and starting from the quotation “Good leaders must first become good servants” they were asked to try to understand and interpret the meaning of servant leadership and then to represent it through a construction out of plasticine of different colours.

Results were surprising: from a tasteful Italian pizza to a complex and elaborate cell, from a dark blue solar system with differently sized and vivid planets to a beautiful green plant in coloured flowers lightened by bright yellow sunbeams to finish with a small variegated group of fruits, fish and vegetables all representing the variety of students that “populate” our classes. The servant leader was interpreted as someone that act supporting the students, it is the sun that warms the planets, it is the base of the pizza, it is the bright yellow sunbeam.

Teachers were then asked to answer some questions about the way they understood servant leadership and then to explain their own work to the other teachers.

Later on, Polish teachers from Gdynia managed the second module “Identify Needs and Recognizing Opportunities from Past Experiences” which refers to “Entrecomp area: into action” consisting of two main phases. In the first section participants were divided into 5 groups and starting from a “real problem” written on a cardboard, they had to find a possible solution.

One team created a special touch mobile phone for the elderly, another one organised social services to foster relationship within the local community, other groups found out different creative solutions to solve real problems they had to face in the past. In the second section teams were asked to swap their cardboard to the next group which had to analyse the “Strengths” of the ideas; then groups swapped again their works and this time teachers had to discuss about “Weaknesses” in the project and so on with “Opportunities” and “Threats”. At the end each group got again its own cardboard filled in with the SWOT analysis (Weakness, Strengths, Opportunities, Threats) and discussed about it.

On Friday morning Italian teachers from Palermo focused on the competence  “mobilizing people: the power of communication”. Teachers from Pietro Piazza High School introduced the so called “rhetoric triangle” which is actually just a method to organize elements of rhetoric, as outlined by Aristotle.

The Rhetorical Triangle - Communication Skills from MindTools.com

These three elements, ethos, pathos and logos, are arranged on a triangle, with logos at the top and ethos and pathos at the bottom corners.

To be effective and persuasive, your communication must appeal to all three of the elements.

At the end of the scheduled activities, participants were given their certificate of attendance, lots of photos were taken and they all left with the promise to meet again on the next Staff Training Event.