Servant-Leadership PhilosophyBroetje Orchards was birthed as the result of a dream Ralph Broetje had at age 15, in which he first sensed God calling him to own a business one day and use it to serve others suffering from poverty, starvation and homelessness. This desire to serve was one of the spiritual values he had been taught by his faith tradition.
Ralph and Cheryl Broetje were married in 1967. Broetje Orchards was founded in 1968, largely due to the caring, committed service of others who mentored us and stood with us while we were learning how to run a business and make a profit while doing so. It took us until the early 1980s to become conscious of the fact that our employees made up a people group in need of empowerment and service of all kinds themselves, and that we could use our business as a means to provide those opportunities in the workplace.
By 1995, the Center for Sharing (the first affiliate birthed from Broetje Orchards) began offering servant-leadership development opportunities through an organized curriculum, including courses for Broetje Orchards and Center for Sharing staff. The curriculum merged spiritual values and principles with the writings of Robert Greenleaf, who had coined the phrase "servant leadership" in his essay The Servant as Leader, first published in 1970. Both entities have continued to consistently offer servant-leadership development opportunities since that time in all our affiliate organizations as well as wherever we are invited to share the transforming power of this philosophy with others.
At Broetje Orchards we seek to employ this philosophy in all that we do, seeing the whole person and not just the employee. We recognize that each person has gifts to share with the community and that many times they simply need an opportunity to be able to explore, develop and share these gifts in unique ways that strengthen the common good.
W. Edwards Deming said this: "The most valuable currency of any organization is the initiative and creativity of its members. Every leader has the solemn moral responsibility to develop these to the maximum in all his/her people. This is the leader's highest priority."
Today, we continually strive to become better servant-leaders around Greenleaf's suggested best test:
- Do those served grow as persons?
- Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?
- And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?