Effective community leaders know their community inside and out. They are confident, bringing residents together and passing on that same sense of empowerment. These leaders encourage diversity, different types of people working toward the same end goal, as the solution to solving community problems. A community is a group of people who need each other to survive and succeed, and effective leaders can be the catalyst to initiate change and guide community members to success.
Citizen Leaders for Community Betterment
Community leaders must figure out a way to balance the different values with actions that can accommodate as much diversity as possible or invest in a broader process of collaboration than was originally planned. This engagement with politics or the involvement of citizens in the public sphere is also known as civic engagement.
Community Leadership Development: Preliminary Steps to a General Theory
To fully complete a general theory of community leadership and understand how it can best be fostered by interventions such as an educational program, we need to think about how such program efforts affect individuals and, subsequently, how those effects may be extended to produce community effects.
How Committed to the Community are Your Leaders?
Generally, people who are committed to the community express a sense of ownership for what happens in and a sense of belonging to the community. They demonstrate this by being involved in various ways, but especially by way of those organizations and activities that benefit the whole community. These people give of their time, energy and, often, their wealth to improve the community and provide support for local business and other elements of the social, cultural and economic aspects.
Of Heroes and Citizens: Where are the Barn Raisers when you Need Them?
Social cohesion represents a concept similar to community identity, a sense of belonging to a collective bigger than a single individual. A cohesive community, one that works together to get things done, is more likely to be successful than a divided one. Divided communities are filled with conflict that acts as an obstacle to success and building a consensus to support action.
Developing Leaders for Community Leadership and Civic Engagement
This series on Civic Engagement has been developed from a specific perspective derived from research conducted over the past twelve years and a growing literature on “community” rather than organizational leadership. This series has emphasized the importance of context to leadership and its effects. There are some important things to be learned that were covered briefly by the specific topics of the individual elements of this series that deserve some re-emphasis here.
The Benefits of Community Leadership Development Education
Community leadership development education (CLDE) programs are frequently sponsored by universities, foundations, chambers of commerce and other organizations across America on an annual basis, often at substantial levels of expenditure of cash and other resources. Some estimates have this level of support at several million dollars annually. How is this support justified?
The Vision Thing
For CLDE program organizers, developing a sense of vision and shared purpose about the community’s future can mean a number of things. The only criterion for success is that other citizens unite with the same end goal in mind rather than start working toward some other, perhaps incompatible, set of goals.
Community Leadership Development Education Empowerment
Empowerment is achieved when a diverse group of leaders and residents join together to address the problems of their community and find solutions. It is more than just knowing what needs to be done. Rather, empowerment is having confidence that brings about constructive change.
“Thinking Anew about Community Leadership”
Community leadership is a relationship between leaders and collaborators. It is most effective when fellow residents of the community become acquaintances rather than strangers. This encourages interaction among community leaders and residents, resulting in the foundation of a successful community. When citizens band together, they can work with decision-makers to encourage real change.
“Community Leaders: Confident and Competent”
Community leaders display their confidence through public speaking, leading group meetings and identifying community problems. These leaders juggle differences that may cause conflict among residents. A confident and competent leader will continue to learn and develop as a leader, using his or her power and skills to improve the lives of fellow community members.
“The Nature of Community”
Community is more than a geographic location. It is a bond of people, a “structure of belonging.” Communities have distinct characteristics. Their structure of individuals and the local government is important to understand to be an effective community leader. Community also involves a collective aspect of property, organizations and resources. In other words, community is a group of people who depend on one another to grow and thrive.
Understanding Your Community
To be an effective leader, you must know and understand the community to which you serve. Learn the history of the community from libraries, newspapers and even long-time residents. Recognize the culture because it parallels to the way the community is governed. Understand the organization of a community and how it works toward achieving goals. View the community as a whole social system; each working part is dependent upon another. Ultimately, as a leader, you will be more welcomed, and therefore more effective, when you are “one of them” rather than an “outsider.”
Community Effects of Community Leadership Development: Citizen Empowerment for Civic Engagement
West Virginia University Press, 2015
The premise of this book addresses the gap between the decades of effort and resources devoted to community leadership development programs and the lack of reliable information documenting the actual effects on community of these programs. The authors chose 24 communities which had supported leadership development programs between 2000 and 2006 and 12 comparison communities which had not. These communities came from six states equally. The research clearly demonstrates that these programs have an effect on the community, although the manner in which that effect comes about is not what the program organizers likely expected. The research findings demonstrate the importance of learning about how the community works, politically speaking, and finding ways to become engaged in that realm as well as the importance of the relationships developed among participants in the leadership development program. While other learning takes place and has secondary, supportive effects, without become civically engaged and making use of the new networks formed, no community effect takes place.
The 12 short topical essays found in this SRDC series illustrate the findings of the research in a very readable form, leaving out the statistical evidence assembled. Developed by the primary author of the book above, each essay reviews important aspects of the findings from the research and challenges sponsors of community leadership development programs to think carefully about how they organize a learning experience and what they really intend to achieve as an outcome of the program.