Have you ever been referred to as a community leader and thought no I’m not? I haven’t done enough in my career or community to be viewed with such esteem. Have you caught yourself saying “thanks for the compliment but I’m not a community leader”?
There have been times in my career where I’ve felt the same way. Community leadership or even leadership in general was always something I associated with prominent people in the community. This could have been a lack of confidence on my part or simply it seemed to be who was always recognized; those whose name was more known in the community or who received some sort of award or media attention for their contribution.
The actions of community leadership are usually not as dramatic as described above, and they usually don't inspire a chorus of recognition, but they are very worthwhile. Community leaders are often self-appointed leaders who take responsibility for the well-being and improvement of their communities or organization. Are you a leader? Are you interested in becoming one? Are you someone who:
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you are most likely a community leader already, or on your way to becoming one. You don't have to run for office or be given a title to be a leader. All you need to do is decide to take responsibility for some aspect of your community or organization.
Leadership can be good for you. In fact, many people enjoy leading. You don't have to lead out of obligation. You can choose to lead and participate in ways that energize you and help you grow. You can choose to work on issues that you care about. You can take on challenges that are fun, rewarding, or interesting. It's really up to you.
You don’t have to be a natural born leader to lead either. People learn how to lead. Even the people who seem to do it naturally had to learn the skills of leadership. They might have learned by watching their parents, or teachers. They might have been given a lot of responsibility when they were young and might have been expected to take charge. Everyone has to start somewhere. You can become a leader by:
Dream Big! Day dreaming is a part of being a leader. In fact, day dreaming is one of the first things you need to do as a leader. It’s necessary to dream big for yourself and for what you want to accomplish. Take time to think. Create your own personal vision statement. Put your dream into words that communicate to others a picture of what you want to do or be. Organizations have vision statements; and as leaders you can have your own vision statement too.
You have to make a decision to lead and view yourself as a leader whether in your community or organization. No one else can contribute what you can. You have a point of view that no one else has. You have a set of skills that is unique to you.
Remember, all leaders need support from others to help them keep growing and get through the fears and discouragement they may encounter along the way. At times leaders can feel isolated in their jobs; they need others to listen to their thinking, and they need to listen to others' ideas. That’s ok. It’s normal and doesn’t make you weak!
I encourage you to develop relationships with people that you can share your leadership successes and discouragements with. This should be a person you trust to be straight with you. Being a leader requires thick skin and being able to handle feedback and sometimes criticism is a strengthening quality. Find someone who’s not afraid to hurt your feelings and holds you accountable to the goals you’ve made for yourself. By doing this you will grow into the fearless leader you want to be.
I know you can do it, become a leader worth following!