The servant leader:Richard Pieper Sr.

Richard Pieper Sr.

Chair, PPC Partners Ltd., Milwaukee

Take action: This year’s Greenleaf Center Annual Conference will be held June 10-13 at the Midwest Airlines Convention Center in Milwaukee. Many servant leaders in business, higher education, health care, government and religion will make presentations and lead workshops. Readers of BizTimes Milwaukee are invited to attend. Additional information is available at

Richard Pieper Sr. is the chairman of the board of trustees for the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. The organization is devoted to the concept of servant leadership, in which leaders operate with the premise that their mission is to serve others, rather than being served.

Why should Wisconsin organizations adopt servant leadership? Because it is an ethical, effective way to lead. It works especially well when times are tough.

Servant-leaders pay a lot of attention to their employees and the people they serve – customers, patients, members, students or citizens. It’s really that simple. Servant-leaders figure out how to meet the needs of their employees, so their employees can meet the needs of their customers. That results in satisfied customers who are likely to come back, and also tell their friends. 

There are some key practices of servant-leaders that help them to succeed. For example, servant-leaders are excellent listeners. They talk to people informally, conduct interviews, hold focus groups and conduct surveys and market studies. They continually ask people about their wants and needs. That’s how they learn how best to support their employees, and that’s how they learn which programs, products and services to offer their customers.

Servant-leaders are also good at developing the talent within their organizations. They place a high priority on training and spend a lot of time coaching and mentoring their colleagues. Servant-leaders unleash the energy and intelligence of others.

Servant-leaders are not in it just for their own power, wealth or fame. They find meaning and satisfaction in identifying and meeting the needs of employees and customers. Their focus on others makes it easy for employees and customers to trust them.

We have built our company, Pieper Electric, on servant leadership principles over the last 50 plus years, and those principles have been a big factor in our growth and success.

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