Young Community Leaders: Goals and Expectations

Posted: Wednesday, 14 October, 2015 by deacongray in Uncategorized

( Five points useful points for young leaders in the VC)

(c) 2015 deacongray and thegraveyardpress


I recall in my early years that volunteering in different forums and chat rooms enabled me to test my capacity in unfamiliar circumstances with people from all walks of life. In many ways, these were far more enriching moments than I got with pure research from books and websites.

I began to learn the importance of exposure and reflection as a way to live and learn in this night side life. Each time I exposed myself to a new situation, I knew I learned something valuable and I reflected on my response to it. This in turn kept redefining who I was and what I was capable of. I began to realize and continue to believe that we can all be borderless in our mindset if we keep testing our own capacity in different circumstances.

Still, I ran into a lot of blow back, and a great deal of the time I wasn’t even certain as to why. If I was doing the foot work, and spent the time, to develop a project or a program, why was it that so many seemed to fight against it even if they didn’t really seem to have an issue with the premise?

What I discovered at the heart of the matter wasn’t normally my topics, or agenda, but the fact that I wasn’t as experienced or well known in the community I was involved in. People honestly didn’t believe I had the right to lead, even if they themselves were unwilling. They seemed more interested in allowing the ship to flounder, rather than have someone new at the helm, even in a miniscule role, on a very large open ocean.

The real question for me because about how I deal with such things, how do I deal with people who are so quick to condemn anything a new person brought forward?

I found these five points useful, and I thought I would share them with you as they were shared with me a long time ago.

  1. Pursue your passions

Sound cliché? Well, I am not worried if it does. My reality is that I am yet to see an effective leader who is not working in an area that they are passionate about. The lucky ones know their passion early, but for many, they must simply keep looking. You don’t have to jump to every cause out there, find the one you can stick with over the long haul.

When you combine passionate pursuit with your work you have an energy that others notice. It’s in your body language. People are naturally attracted whether they like you or not. Great leaders mobilize others with their authentic energy.

Don’t settle for existence ahead of a leadership adventure you believe in.

  1. Listen and observe

If you want to lead you need to be a champion at listening and observing. Every day, the people around you are expressing themselves in word, manner, body language and actions. To date, I remain stunned at how blind so many are to the messages people express in different ways.

If you want to be the leader amongst leaders, learn about the personalities of the people you work with. Understand their strengths, weaknesses and motivations. Invest in them through conversation. Learn about their life experiences and marry your approach to different people in a manner consistent with their character.

Great communication comes from a genuine human interest in others.

  1. Empathy

Ironically, there is no greater strength than the expression of empathy. In leadership, always take the opportunity to exhibit your understanding when a colleague faces difficult times, whether that be as a result of their own actions or not. A moment of kindness when a person is vulnerable can present a profound opportunity to recast a relationship and allow confidence to be built or rebuilt.

A timely kindness can turn a person’s life around.

  1. Personal identity

The most effective leaders are not defined by their own success or the title they hold. You will see on many occasions a person’s life unravel when they lose their leadership role. This is often because they have unwittingly allowed their title to be their identity and confidence. Throughout your life, always ensure that you do not align your identity to your title. Not only will it make you more tentative in conducting your activities, it will shatter you if the title is taken away.

Your role should not define you.

  1. Self-awareness

From today, do everything you can to understand the impact you have on others around you. It took me a long time to begin to appreciate how my actions and behaviors impacted on others. Only when self-awareness becomes a strength will you be on your leadership journey. I have seen many hard working and well-meaning people miss out on their earned opportunity for promotion simply because they continued to have negative impacts on others without ever recognizing it.

Test your level of self-awareness with those you love and like.

Above all remember that you will always have critics. There will always be people who fight you. Take from them knowledge, but don’t allow their negativity detour you from progression in your goals. When these obstacles pop up in your way, see them as a challenge that helps you learn and grow, but don’t ever stop simply because someone says you are too new, too young, too inexperienced.

Everyone in this community started somewhere, and many have never went further than standing on the side lines complaining about where they think your project should be headed. They are the last generation of do nothings, not the next generation of progress. Progress belongs to the leaders, the achievers and the committed.

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