Creative Leadership in Community: Qualities of a Leader

                Communities and institutions are about serving people and the people who are doing the serving. This interrelatedness is what makes these institutions important in our society. These organizations need leaders. This week, I’ll be writing about the importance of leadership.

            Today’s post concerns the qualities of a good leader in terms of building up community. These leaders have important qualities that make them stand out from individuals who seek to be followed, but do not really lead in a community context, and from those who choose only to be followed, but do not make a real effort to lead.

            The first quality of a leader is that they are actively creative. That is, the leader seeks to identify and solve problems in an active way. The leader understands that leadership is much more than just identifying problems (although that is very important as well), but in solving those issues once they have been identified.

            Similarly, leaders are bold. That is, leaders do active things that actually mean something. They do not hide away making statements that only have a minimum impact. That is not to say that leaders should be so bold as to be reckless, but they must be willing to take calculated risks.

            Leaders know their field very well. This does not make us perfect (see below) but it does point to a need to have knowledge to do the job effectively. Those with both intelligence and wisdom often make good leaders     

Not only must leaders know their field well, but they must also have a good sense of mission, vision, and purpose. If an individual that seeks to be a leader lacks these things, it is likely that the organization will ultimately become flawed because of their leadership. An individual that does display these leadership traits has a much better chance of making the organization respectable.

Likewise, good leaders need to have integrity. It is, unfortunately, far too common to try to move up in the world by unethical or selfish means. Sometimes, this kind of behavior is rewarded. However, as with not having a good sense of values and vision, an individual who does not display integrity will ultimately fail.

 Not only must a leader display ethics, vision, knowledge, and mission, but they must also be effective communicators. Messages, verbal and nonverbal, must effectively communicate the above qualities to the organization’s team, other organizations, the general public, or all three. Communication needs are determined by the tactical and pragmatic needs of the organization, but it is essential that needed information is communicated in an effective manner.

             Humbleness is an important leadership trait. Leadership requires us to acknowledge that we still have to treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve even if our worldly title puts us “above” these people. Ultimately, leadership is about servitude. Good leaders care about more than just themselves. They reach out to others.

 Leadership also means admitting that we are not perfect; we do not necessarily have the answer to everything. We may need resources, wisdom, or expertise from someone else including from a higher power. That does not make us weak at all; it makes us effective leaders.  

            Good leaders are collaborative. They recognize that good ideas can come from anyone. That does not necessarily mean that a leader turns all of his or her authority over to others, but what it does mean is that the leader invites everyone to participate and gathers ideas, wisdom, and expertise.

            What other qualities do you think a community based leader should possess?

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