A Six Pack of Competencies

With both the American and Canadian elections in full swing, there’s a lot of talk about leadership these days..

Seems women are being hard hit. Both Hilary and Sarah were slammed for being too aggressive and strident even though they both have impressive track records. Instead of admiring her juggling abilities, this week I actually heard an interviewer ask Governor Palin if it was possible for her to be vice-president while raising a family. It’s a question that no one would even think to ask a man. 

But maybe just maybe it’s because women aren’t building on their unique leadership strengths. 

Perhaps all female candidates should flatly reject the traditional, male command-and-control leadership style that opens them to criticism. Perhaps they, and other new age candidates, should instead be thinking about a new kind of leadership.

In addition to allowing them to showcase many of the strengths that are inherent to women, it would also reflect more of the kind of leadership that our communities and our countries desperately need.

What does it take to be a community leader?

While it may seem simplistic, I don’t think leadership needs to be all that complicated. The way I reckon it, it’s really just a six pack of competencies. 

First of all, we want our leaders to be committed to continuous improvement both for themselves and others. That of course doesn’t happen without strong values, a moral compass and a code of conduct that reflects those values.

Next we want leaders who are optimistic, proactive, big picture thinkers. That big picture or system approach is essential because the issues in our country and our communities are too complicated to be solved by any one sector or silo. And for heaven’s sake while they are examining that big picture maybe they could pay attention to and apply some creative responses to the social, economic, environmental, and technology trends and issues that have the potential to impact our communities.

We don’t expect you to do it by yourself either.  We also want community leaders who will be catalysts for encouraging citizen responsibility and for engaging and cultivating community ownership.  That means that while we want to see leaders who understand the need to facilitate change, we also want them to believe in the power and possibilities of individual contributions.

As citizens we do understand the importance of supporting businesses but please be a leader who advocates for quality of life. Understand that the most important investments we can ever make will be in our children, our families, our health, our environment and our social infrastructure.

We also want leaders who are influential and able to nurture positive relationships with others. We are hungry for leaders who have the passion and motivation that is respected by others so that barriers will can be addressed and overcome.

Lastly we want to see leaders who know how to plan effectively. This typically will mean utilizing a community development approach that engages others in the process to develop visionary yet pragmatic plans that resonate because they are an innovative response to real community needs and priorities.

Oh and one more thing for the wish list. It wouldn’t hurt leaders could be just a little more concise and too the point when they speak.


Posted on 09-15-08

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