Service Leadership Model

Preparing people for service leadership is the primary goal of Kiwanis Service Leadership Programs

Preparing people for service leadership is the primary goal of Kiwanis Service Leadership Programs. The Builders Club experience prepares young people to become the most skilled and engaged members of their communities – now and in the future. Advisors play the key role in helping club members grow into service leaders.

Using the Builders Club resources created for this purpose, all clubs should strive to achieve the service leadership model. The four themes of service leadership are Learn, Engage, Serve and Lead.

Learn: The act, process or experience of gaining knowledge or skill. (

Compared with any other age group, youth in their middle years are ripe to discover who they re and to explore what they care about beyond themselves and their immediate family and friends. When their social bonds are healthy, the Builders Club experience offers both self-exploratory space and social space for members to learn about themselves as their peers do the same; and to share and reflect together. Through activities in the Member and Officer Toolkit, members will relfect on their gifts-the talents they have and the things they know deeply.

Engage: To occupy oneself; become involved. (

More than ever before, young people need to develop the capacity and skills to interact face-to-face,collaborate on teams and engage in their communities. Builders Club helps students experience effective collaboration as an ingredient of successful planning, problem solving and accomplishing goals. By engaging with others, club members will learn the art of conversation, how to build coalitions and how to raise resources for service. Further, purposeful engagement can provide an opportunity for youth to learn one of the most important soft skills for human connection: empathy, the experience of understanding another
person’s feelings, thoughts or attitudes from their perspective.

Serve: To be useful or of service to; help. (

Many children first act to serve others when invited by parents/guardians or friends, in a youth group or congregation or at school. They stay involved in service for many reasons: the joy of improving others’ lives; recognition; the ability to use their skills in the real world; a sense of belonging and connection; the chance to meet people with shared values; the opportunity to gain their voice.

By joining a service club, students gain many benefits. For instance, they embrace their power to make a
difference, develop the ability to empathize with people in need, feel a sense of place in their community, and
learn how to make meaningful social contributions.

In Builders Club, it is essential for advisors to understand the different cultural, economic and geographic
contexts in which the students live. Context affects what service looks like and what youth prefer to do, value
doing and have time to do. Context also builds values for certain types of service. Among immigrants and many people of color, for instance, feeding neighbors and newcomers to the community is a common act of generosity. Youth living at the poverty line are more likely to care for younger siblings after school while parents/guardians work. In rural communities (where there are fewer nonprofit organizations), students may offer informal, neighborly acts of kindness or create projects to fill a local need.

Advisors can foster members’ self-efficacy and expand the club’s definition of service by helping them discover how to be leaders at home, in their own neighborhoods/locales and within other groups to which they belong. Recognizing and celebrating these acts in the club will expand how students define service — and define themselves as service leaders.

Lead: The ability to listen to, communicate with, serve and guide others.

Though leadership is often associated with formal, titled, appointed or elected roles, members should
understand that everyone can be a leader. Service clubs provide a place where youth can unlock their
leadership potential. The club experience can help students learn how to be other-centered, develop the
ability to move an idea into purposeful action, build essential skills, and accept their identity as a leader. As
with service, opportunities to lead arise in members’ personal lives and in informal ways when tasks need to
be completed in the club.

How can advisors support club members in learning the four themes of service leadership? Review the Builders Club Advisor Toolkit – pages 7 through 9 to learn what to do.