Putting a focus on regional community leadership
You will often hear people talking about how regional, rural and remote communities are in desperate need of good leaders. While there have been many changes in how community development should be approached, one thing has become abundantly clear, community leadership is critical.
Accountability is becoming the big issue. It applies to brands, for politicians, for business, and for individual community members. It seems as if every other day, a politician, brand or organisation is caught out in some scandal or another. Reputation management has become a growing field of expertise.
If people do not conduct themselves with transparency, integrity, and with values relevant to their community, they will be called out for it and vilified on social media, if not publicly.
Do your community leaders light up the countryside, or are they dull and boring?
Perceptions are real when it comes to community leadership
What is the understanding of the most crucial factor in the development of regional communities? Is it the presence of highly-skilled, highly-motivated leaders who are committed to bringing about positive change in a challenging environment?
Alternatively, is it the focus on the community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is where each component of the ecosystem is action orientated, with education focused on entrepreneurial behaviour?
People tend to think of leaders as people with titles and positions in local government. Whereas it is the people, who live there. The people who put the time and effort into a myriad of small activities to improve their situation, every day. It is all very well to talk in high-level terms and make sure the administration runs efficiently, but someone has to do the work. Encourage people by providing a beautiful and confident environment, and they will look after their community with whatever is available to them.
Everyone should focus on supporting the entrepreneurs and the movers and shakers. Helping and encouraging them to shape and choose the activities the people want and need. You need to look no further than the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast to see what a disgrace the opening and closing ceremonies were because the so-called ‘leaders’ did not listen to the people.
There are too many examples of community leadership failure
The Commonwealth Games closing ceremony is being slammed as a national disgrace by all, including the host television broadcasters Channel 7. Something many people will remember as a failure in leadership.
Are the leaders in your community out of control with spurious self-serving agendas.
The Commonwealth Games closing ceremony is being slammed as a national disgrace by all, including the host television broadcasters Channel 7.
After the disgraceful Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, leaders had the perfect opportunity to redeem themselves. Instead, they dug a deeper and even more embarrassing hole, ending 11 days of impeccable competition on the sourest of notes. They missed the opportunity to showcase the real Australia and the incredible athletes who should have been the primary focus and what most people came to see.
People wonder why it is difficult to engage the local people in community activities. Well, it is perhaps time we all changed the conversations about our community and focused activities which people want, not the Politically Correct rubbish which is being dished up by people with minority agendas and who have their ‘snouts in the trough’.
What to look for in our community leadership
Community governance is now a popular concept and therefore is becoming an essential part of a leaders role. A community leader is someone who is perceived to represent the community’s interests and plays the role of protecting them.
The role of community leadership can a be a paid position, or voluntarily one. Most small towns and villages have held this role as a voluntary one. Community leaders have a vast range of activities which range from engaging and mobilising people for a common cause to designing courses of action to overcome problems, frustrations and challenges.
There is much more to leadership than a fancy title
Some of the essential qualities of excellent community leadership can include:
- Values are the guiding principles in our lives. Leadership occurs within the context of core community values. Leaders guide and facilitate others to make a positive difference in their own lives and to contribute to the common good. By focusing on what people believe and value, and then positively building on this understanding, leaders have the potential for impact far more wide-reaching than if they approach leadership as purely a problem-solving activity.
- Self-awareness. A good community leader should be knowledge of the community strengths and weaknesses. The best leaders will always exhibit entrepreneurial characteristics. They must be able to listen and exploit possibilities while seeking help from others to cover any shortcomings.
- Forward-thinking. Forward thinking is about being visionary. Leaders should be able to think of the future and the possibilities and set sustainable goals by developing critical thinking skills and involving the younger generations.
- A great leader inspires people to create the desired social change. They do this in a variety of ways but always remembers to include others in their thought process and courses of action.
- As a leader it is vital you recognise how the community perceives you as one of their leaders. Insight allows leaders to imagine different viewpoints from the community members as well as understand their feelings. Outstanding leaders are people who care and share.
- Service above self. Involvement in general community services and the ‘customer experience’. As a leader is seen to serve it creates respect and legitimises their role in the community.
Have you spotted many of these qualities in yourself yet?
- Manage the money. Someone has to manage the financial affairs of the community. But whoever does it must not infuriate the community members by frivolous spending and the self-serving agenda of a minority
- It is demonstrated by possessing a strength of self to act with an intention on behalf of the common good; taking a stand in the face of adversity; working boldly in the service of inclusion and justice.
- They are eager to learn and adapt. As a community leader, earning respect from members is one of the critical attributes. To do so, learning to listen to others, appreciating their input and changing courses of action is often necessary.
- Interpersonal skills. A community leader should be able to interact with other members of the community with ease. It calls for excellent communication and collaboration skills. Being able to negotiate, mediate, listen, and articulate arguments both internally and externally are
- A competent leader can take care of the tough stuff which may happen to the community. It includes high levels of both emotional and social intelligence.
- Honesty and integrity. All leaders must ensure they are trustworthy and keep their promises.
- The best leaders understand true loyalty is reciprocal. Because of this, they express devotion in tangible ways which benefit the member of their teams. Real loyalty is ensuring all team members have the training and resources to do their jobs well. It’s standing up for team members in crisis and conflict. Great leaders see themselves as being in a position of service to their team members. People who believe their leader is loyal to them are much more likely to show their loyalty when it matters.
What have you discovered about your community leadership
Time spent in a leadership role can only be beneficial if it is seen to create desirable change. Leaders do not accept that something cannot be incorporated into their community programs and projects. They fight and fight hard for what people want and need.
What sort of leadership is supporting your community? Who is doing the ‘heavy lifting’?
When you look more deeply into leadership qualities, it becomes evident there are many so-called ‘ordinary people’ in the community. These people will have many of these attributes. Keep in mind many hands bring about lite work, many social benefits and more satisfying outcomes.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish”. Proverbs
“I must follow the people. Am I not their leader”? Benjamin Disraeli