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In Search of Leadership
By Kim Tieman, Senior Program Officer
The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation
For years, people have discussed
whether someone can learn to be a leader, or if leaders are born. Additionally,
people discuss “what it takes” to be a leader. Leadership, according
to the dictionary, means “the ability to lead.” Regardless of the
definition or the situation, leaders are those people who step up to the plate.
So, what does it take to get people to feel confident enough to step forward
Strengthening leadership is about establishing new ways of thinking and new patterns of behavior in a community – rather than hoping that if we just waited long enough or interviewed enough candidates, the right person would come along with all the answers. Leaders provide the elements of hope by giving opportunities to be involved, to be needed, to work. They provide identity by being inclusive and respecting individuals. Leaders provide equity, which means to have access.
There is no lack of leadership in West Virginia. West Virginians are eager to work together to tackle tough problems on a range of issues from after-school programs to economic development to affordable housing. It takes courage for a leader to identify and confront barriers, to put in place strategies required to unleash the energy, innovation, and commitment needed to create positive civic change.
West Virginia now offers a leadership-building program called LeadershipPlenty. This innovative program is designed to identify local leaders and help them improve their communities. LeadershipPlenty is an initiative sponsored by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change. West Virginia was the first pilot site for the program and is the second to launch a statewide effort. The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation partnering with the Appalachia Educational Laboratory and the University of Charleston serve as a clearinghouse for LeadershipPlenty. Suzanne Morse, Executive Director for the Pew Partnership, said “ West Virginia has the chance to be a national leader in empowering citizens to bring about change. The primary focus of LeadershipPlenty is for people to understand that a community needs leadership from all levels”.
LeadershipPlenty is a powerful tool to help diverse community groups work together to solve problems and assess the results. In West Virginia, 30 trainers are ready to teach the nine-part skill-building program that can prepare citizens with the skills, attitudes, and relationships required to make lasting changes in their community. Find out more about community leadership by using the resources listed in this issue of SkillBuilder. For more information call the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation at 304-346-3620.
- - - RESOURCES - - -
*** Websites ***
Pew Partnership for Civic Change
The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation
The Community Leadership Association
Leadership Network (of Canada)
*** Books ***
John W. Gardner
(New York: The Free Press, 1990)
The Leader of the Future
The Drucker Foundation
(San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Publishers 1996)
In Good Company- How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work
Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak
(Boston, Harvard Business School Press, 2001)
- - - 30 SECOND REVIEW- - -
Leading Without Power
review by Jean Ambrose
This is an easy to read short book of essays on what the non-profit world has to teach the private sector about leadership. De Pree is the former CEO of Herman Miller Co. which manages its work through hundreds of teams. In De Pree’s view, the most important role of all organizations is to become “places of realized potential” where people can learn and grow. In his experience such places are: open to change and unsettling ideas; offer challenging work; shed obsolete baggage; work with people to decide what needs to be measured; heal people with trust, caring, and forgetfulness; and celebrate their values. Unlike many “cookbooks” for leadership development, De Pree shares the wisdom he has gained as a corporate leader, volunteer, and grandparent through stories, so reading the book is more like sitting and listening to your grandfather late at night. The stories stay with you long after the short read is over.