The Heart of a Servant Leader

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BY KEISHA JOHNSON

As a child, Kevin Junor observed his mother Joyce selflessly care for others from whatever means she had. Joyce lived the motto, “If I can help somebody as I travel along then my living will not be in vain.”

For her children it became a way of life that grew on them. They recall times of doing without and frequently sharing their privileges to show someone else dignity.

Kevin admits, “I didn’t always agree with her philosophy because for her if it meant taking something from us (children) to give to someone else, she did it. But after her passing her mantra really resonated with me and everything I do.”

Today, Joyce’s legacy personifies Kevin Junor and has helped to distinguish him as a servant leader in Canada. For thirty plus years Kevin has enjoyed a dual career as a soldier and a civilian. His predisposition to leading by example helped him rise up the ranks in the Canadian military reserve alongside gaining senior positions of leadership as a civilian within the Ontario government.

Most recently, Junor was appointed Deputy Superintendent for Compliance in Ontario’s Correctional Services where he is part of the transition team charged with changing the culture of correctional services both for the inmates and the management.

As part of the transition, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) has moved away from the general way of inmate supervision where the inmate is behind a bar and officers are outside.

This has been replaced by a direct supervision model that treats inmates and detainees with respect and integrates efforts to “make life as normal as possible because we know that these individuals will eventually get out and you want them to be able to simulate into life as quickly as possible,” Junor explained.

“Regardless of the crime that individual committed, there is a judicial system that is there to determine what happens to that individual. My job is not to look at an individual and speak down to them but to take care of the individual while they are in my custody because we provide, care, custody and intervention. And you cannot truly take care of the individuals unless you respect them as a human being.”

As to his role with the management team, Junor says “I need to lead the team that will also see everyone in the same light that says we will take care of you within the guidelines laid out for us by the province of Ontario and the federal government.

“Paul the apostle says follow me as I follow Christ. So it’s putting myself out so that daily my team and everyone who works with me feels respected and feels valued. It’s not about people serving Kevin but how can I serve you without you taking advantage of me,” Junor who describes himself as a very religious person said.

He credits the military and the church for further developing the discipline which he first learnt from his mother.

“As a leader in the military we always served the soldiers first because they are the ones doing the ground work and if we ran out of food that was okay because as leaders we had privilege that allowed us to get a meal later. The soldiers however had a set time to eat. So I learnt how to take care of the people who work with me.”

As to the church’s influence, he says “my religious values drive my thinking and the Bible tells me that God created man in his image. So regardless of how an individual behaves we are still [human] and should be treated with respect.”

Junor’s manner of leading by serving has been profiled in a textbook on leadership currently used at the University of Toronto. It has also earned him several top awards including the civil service’s Amethyst award, the Harry Jerome award for excellence and the Order of Military Merit – the military’s highest non-combat decoration to name a few.

“I never dreamt the order of military merit was something I would receive,” he recalls of the occasion reconnecting with its deeper significance. Among the 50 service men and women inducted that day he remembers being the only person in a kilt and the only Black. He said walking up to the Governor General (Her Excellency the Hon. Michaelle Jean, Canada’s first Black Governor General) was something that was ‘just right’… It was a day we all thought was not possible and God made it possible.”

After being a Regimental Sergeant Major for the Toronto Scottish Regiment, Kevin took his commission and retired from the Canadian Army reserves as Captain. His current post with the MCSCS is his fifth appointment at that ministry since he was recruited in 2012 as part of their succession planning.

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