The economic growth of a community is directly attributed to a focused leadership style which yields high impact results. Leadership is not something which one can “brush up on.” Becoming an effective leader requires a constant dedication to self-improvement consisting of mental, physical, spiritual and social gains. This advancement requires discipline along with an insane level of passion!
Fortunately for the masses, not just anyone is qualified to fill such a position. I guess the real question to ponder is, what are the qualifications, and are they justly earned?
In a recent report released as a white paper from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, two post-industrial communities were examined, and evaluated in their perspective rates of economic growth. Both towns experienced some bounce back after the decline of a once prosperous steel industry. But as the report identifies, one catapulted to the “high road” of economic growth, while the other struggled to advance.
Social capital is defined as the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment, and cooperation between individuals and groups. In a nut shell, social networks in which one is a member seem to have value. Similar to social media marketing, one could assume that the more organizations you’re involved in, the better qualified you are to influence productivity within a community.
The single guaranteed outcome when a large group of individuals are organized is that over time one person will be exposed as the leader. Not necessarily and elected position, but a commonly acknowledged position of authority. A person will earn this title only after garnering the trust of their peers. Trust is awarded after someone has demonstrated on a consistent basis that he or she is able to make sound decisions that are both unselfish, moral, and provide long-term value to the community. That individual will be charged with the awesome responsibility of ensuring the entire community is safe, nourished and cared for physically as well as economically.
Now back to the rust riddled steel towns. Each town had appointed leaders. Some elected, some self-proclaimed, but very few embraced by the community as a whole. In fact, many of them viewed positions of leadership more as a social status rather than a duty. One town in particular was driven by the opinions of those who were only qualified through simple rules of lineage. These named spearheads were focused solely on their popularity, and quickly lost sight of the ultimate goal. They failed to provide a voice that harnessed a sense of reason, discipline, knowledge and the ability to give direction. These leaders possessed a ridiculous amount of social capital. But at the end, it wasn’t about the connections they had made. The abundance actually interfered, and stunted the economic growth resulting in lost jobs, a declining housing market and a fading tourism industry.
They became distracted.
Focused leadership employs a sniper like system that concentrates on a community with little distractions. The steel town that experienced rushed economic growth did so only after narrowing their focus and efforts on a single issue. By trimming their organizational commitments down to a few, they became better equipped to react to an issue which required their undivided attention.
The truth is, although a leader with a massive social network yields power, it can cause a community to become brittle. A leader, who serves on boards where there is not a conflicting economic interest in development, will result in a community that is able to quickly develop its own identity.
In summary, the strength of a community is only increased when its members recognize leaders, and connect them with people who share their passion, regardless of their last name. Obtaining a wealth of popularity is not necessary. How you choose to deploy your social capital to enhance a positive result for all will determine growth.
"Leaders who win the respect of others are the ones who deliver more than they promise, not the ones who promise more than they deliver.” ~Mark A. Clement
This post was a little off of our normally traveled beaten path. I just felt compelled to share my thoughts with the world. Leadership is something that is often ignored and replaced by social status.
Not cool! We as a community could be missing out on greatness.