As we’ve maneuvered our way around some of the 5 civic leadership principles over the past few weeks, some collisions might have occurred in your brain regarding other examples or definitions of leadership that we regularly encounter. Part of the foundation of these principles comes from the pen of Ed O’Malley: “Kansas said a different type of leadership is necessary if we want to make more progress on our biggest challenges and opportunities. The ideas in [the KLC Quick Guide] embody that leadership and come from intense listening across our state. Today, thousands of Kansans are working to exercise the type of leadership described here.”
One notion that you’ve maybe heard of is that of the “natural born leader.” When we press a little further to define what we mean by that, the language we gravitate toward can often tend to be a charisma, twinkle-in-the-eye, or a willingness to step out and lead by example. So, as you think about these 5 principles: 1) Leadership is an activity, not a position. 2) Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere. 3) It starts with you and must engage others. 4) Your purpose must be clear. 5) It’s risky. I might concede that there are certain traits within certain people that make them more willing to engage others in risky ways, but leadership is decidedly about making a conscious choice for yourself to be about the activity of mobilizing others to difficult work.
Progress in our communities doesn’t happen as we all sit passively waiting for the next great natural born leader rise up and fix the daunting challenges we face. No, progress happens as we individually choose to step into risk and engage others with a purpose (often higher than ourselves) so that progress is made little by little and our community is a better place.
Today, then, step out and be the leader you’re capable of being. With you…