In our fifteen part series on the Foundations of Leadership, you learned about some valuable leadership tools. All of these tools together create effective leadership – and you can use that leadership to an advantage for communities or community organizations.
Many times communities and their organizations can lack solid leadership. This is usually not the fault of one person or entity, but a natural occurrence due to the fact that everyone involved probably has a job, family, and personal life outside of the organization. Sometimes the status quo rules in these organizations, simply because the group is fulfilling its purpose. But this should not be good enough for an effective leader, so when you step up to lead courageously, the organization can expect some solid benefits.
The first advantage of effective leadership is that it will help define leadership within the organization. Along with that status quo stagnation, community organizations may not have a clear definition of what leadership really is.
When you look for the opportunity to step forward through your vision, strategic thinking, and innovation, you’ll begin to create organization out of disorganization – or even chaos. If things are pretty well organized, you’ll begin to raise a new vision and new direction for the group. So this challenge to the status quo is really an explanation of leadership – and a demonstration of what is needed to get the organization moving forward on the right track.
Along with the definition of leadership, you’ll begin to create a leadership expectation. Organizations tend to go back to the status quo after good leaders have moved on because there is no continuing expectation of effective leadership. Your leadership push will be a way of saying, “this is how the organization moves forward”.
The group membership will also see this advantage: they will know that they deserve effective leadership and can count on it – and not settle for anything less. Have you ever seen an organization’s board get elected because there aren’t enough people willing to run, or because the membership is so apathetic that they don’t care? When you set the expectation, the members will start to look for more in their leaders – and take the time to examine and question leadership candidates.
We’ve looked at personal advantage from effective leadership, and it wouldn’t be fair to omit it at the community organization level. Plain and simple, as an effective leader you can promote your agenda and your vision, because you can be certain that it is one that moves the organization forward. As you look for opportunities to lead, you’ll gain influence and be able to persuade members to see other points of view. You’ll be able to set forth an agenda that is political enough in nature to be competitive with status quo agendas. If you end up working in smaller teams, you’ll be able to set the direction of that team by setting your agenda and vision. It’s exciting to think that with a little time and patience you can influence an entire team or organization.
Again at the organizational level, your effective leadership will reposition the entire organization. This is what happens when leaders find the courage to challenge the status quo. Not only this, you’ll have the chance to motivate and inspire the membership to do bigger and better things. After all, many organizations’ purposes are to make life a little better for others – imagine the ability to influence how much better.
When you’ve set direction and vision for a smaller team, you’ll be able to eventually set direction and vision for the organization as a whole. If you’re the first leader to step forward because you see the opportunity, you can help put the organization on a completely different track.
By John Benson