Genuine Leadership


I was thinking this morning how very blessed I am to have met so many incredible people and experienced so many amazing things. These experiences have motivated me to become a better human being. I am not “there” yet but I am striving with all of my heart toward becoming the person Creator intended.   I have been fortunate to meet many leaders in my life. Significant, substantial leaders that impacted many people, many communities and often many nations. They certainly left a mark in my life. The fascinating common denominator about all of these leaders is they will tell you without hesitation they are ordinary people, common men and woman never boasting nor bragging about their calling whether social justice, ministry, business or education.

On a recent Sixty Minutes segment I learned about a gentleman by the name of Nicholas Winton. Did you know that he helped save hundreds of Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia?  He did what he did not for notoriety or compensation but because it was the right thing to do. He sacrificed and served because he wanted to save children from the horror of concentration camps and death. He never asked for recognition or compensation, he just did the right thing. Now at 104 Mr. Winton seems very content, not wondering whether he was successful, made enough money or will leave a lasting legacy–he simply continues to do the right thing. I can only hope I will live that long but more importantly to at least know my life had purpose.

I was contemplating deeply this morning about what leadership trait resonated in the lives of leaders I have met, worked with and admire—that set them apart from other leaders?  I realized that the truly significant societal change-agents all considered themselves servants, these not so common ordinary people genuinely served people.  They sincerely cared about people and did all they could to ensure people—came first. People–after-all are a priority over lofty strategic plans or financial ambitions or even individual success or accolades.

I was recollecting with joy about leaders like Dr. Richard Twiss, Celedonio Sonny Montes Jr, Val Ogden and Chancellor Emeritus H. A. “Hal” Dengerink, Don Frisbee –all local leaders with a heart for our larger community. I recall vividly the words of wisdom and grace shared with me personally from Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Dr. Jerry Yellowhawk, Dr. Derrick Bell and General H. Norman Schwarzkopf –all national leaders who never hesitated to take a moment to prioritize people–even me. Each leader spent time with me acknowledging, encouraging or praying with me rather than focusing on their own self-importance, strategic maneuvering or political savvy. They profoundly impacted individual lives and collective communities because they genuinely cared about people.

There is so much we can learn from servant leaders. I have much hope for our future generations, for my three sons Gabriel, Samuel and Elijah and their friends. I am praying they will rise above the level of individual mediocrity and self –promotion that encumbers so many leaders today. I am praying young people will strengthen their compassion, concern and service to local, national and global communities.  I am grateful for servant leaders who have touched my life and I guess I am secretly hoping more leaders will step forward from my generation—that are common ordinary people.  I am praying for more leaders who lead with genuine heart and service.

Elizabeth Asahi “Rising Sun” Sato, Founder, Rise to Excellence


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