By Melanie Miller, Development Director, Community Vision
By definition; Community leadership is that which involves influence, power, and input into public decision-making over one or more spheres of activity. The spheres of activity may include an organization, an area of interest, an institution, a town, county or a region. Leadership skills include those necessary for public decision-making, policy development, program implementation, corporate and organizational maintenance.
So what makes a great potential Leader? There are many answers to that question. According to the Gallup report’s “rare combination” of leadership characteristics.
“They motivate, assert themselves to network throughout the community, becoming aware of centers of influence, overcome obstacles, create a culture of accountability, build trusting relationships and make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their community and company.”
Providing employees with the tools necessary to identify and craft their natural talents to be used for leadership starts with education and training from within and outside companies and organization. Strong management leaders are strong civic and community participants.
Community-based leadership programs build skills and support the development of emerging leaders through a series of seminars, workshops and other local projects. The programs seek individuals who want to improve their community and give a voice to traditionally underrepresented community members.
Community-based organizations often provide leadership development programs, which are open to the greater community or designed for specific underrepresented populations. Such programs offer an opportunity to invigorate civic engagement.
How Leadership Programs Help our Community
The social capacity building provided by these programs can benefit both a local agency and its community. Leadership development programs help cities to:
- Identify Issues of Community Interest. Leadership groups may tackle community concerns as “class projects” that have a wide range of topics, from neighborhood beautification to modifying school lunch menus;
- Build Skills to Support Engagement. The typical program curriculum emphasizes fundamental skills. Some leadership programs provide specialized training in personal and organizational budgeting; and
- Foster New and Inspired Leaders. The underlying goal commonly shared by community leadership programs is to inspire new leaders and create leadership opportunities. Programs encourage the development of confident individuals who represent their community. Often groups serving in underprivileged communities understand the intrinsic value of these programs and their ability to build confidence.
Leadership programs can help local agencies build relationships with community-based organizations and encourage residents to become more involved in local government, either through volunteering or by participating on boards or commissions.
Leadership Osceola Program
Leadership Osceola is an unsurpassed, award-winning leadership development program that began in 1989. Each year, approximately 30 individuals representing the diverse business, government, non-profit and community sectors enroll in the program. Over the course of 12 weeks, class participants learn about community topics including environment, social services, community planning, education, healthcare, the arts and government. Through hands-on activities, the class experiences real life community challenges and is offered capacity-building and skill-based learning opportunities. Upon graduation, each member has gained the foundation, knowledge, and experience to facilitate positive change in our community. Participants in the leadership program improve their communication skills, connect with diverse community members and work together to create solutions that enhance neighborhoods.