Earlier this year I was selected to chair the Leadership Committee for Gaston Together, and to work with a comprehensive group of professionals throughout the county. Our committee’s charge has been to think about the future leaders of our community — who is working with the community now, how can we help new individuals prepare for leadership, and do we understand if all of these individuals are getting what they need to be successful leaders.
Before taking on this role, I first had to ask myself, what does it mean to be a good leader? For the past 7 years I have served Gaston County in various capacities, and in most cases, I have been in a position of leadership. So I had to ask myself, what kind of leader am I? I ended up with more questions than answers, and some of the questions that came to mind were the following. What qualities or character does it take to be a leader? What is leadership all about – is it “Me” or “We”? What kind of style, approach, methods or techniques does it take to be a good leader? What skills, abilities, and gifts does it take to be a good leader? What kind of traits, behaviors, and mannerisms do good leaders have? Are individuals able to recognize that having people around them who are smarter than they are can actually make them a better leader?
To get some answers, I recently turned to book given to me by a good friend titled “Leadership in the New Normal” by Lt. General Russel L. Honoré. He was the general which President George W. Bush sent to New Orleans when the city was in dire straits after Hurricane Katrina. Here are a few direct key points he listed:
- Good leaders need not always be at the front of the formation, but they always figure out where they are needed most. Being at the right place at the right time is what a leader does.
- Good leaders learn to do the routine things well.
- Good leaders are not afraid to act, even when criticized.
- Good leaders are not afraid to take on the impossible.
Another writer, Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great and the Social Sectors” wrote – “Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus. They always think first about ‘who’ then about ‘what’.”
So, depending on where you are in life (work, home, place of worship), if you hold a leadership position, ask yourself, what kind of leader am I and am I the best leader I can be?
United Way of Gaston County