Growing up, I always shied away from the idea of leadership. I was more comfortable listening to others and believed leadership was best held by people who sought it out and enjoyed being in charge. Recently, however, my perception of who should be a leader has changed.
Living in the United States, we see leadership take on many different forms. Some public figures lead us with respect and dignity, and others resort to hatred and anger. Some have led us calmly through times of crisis and others have floundered. If anything, this has taught me that just because someone feels called to leadership does not mean that they are fit for such a position. Consequently, just because someone does not feel called to leadership doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make a good leader. Before self-disqualifying, it’s important to define the characteristics of a good leader. From what I’ve observed, a good leader excels at listening. A good leader cares about their community and brings people together. Most importantly, a good leader has the courage to stay true to their mission.
Framing leadership in this way, we begin to see that there are many leaders in our community who don’t hold titles of power. There are community organizers who are attempting to improve people’s lives, good neighbors who check in on those around them and create community, and people who are striving every day to lift Ferguson up. Perhaps you are already a local leader and didn’t realize it. Yet if you, like me, have hesitated to accept the call to be a leader, I encourage you to seek the courage to stand up for your community. Bring a few friends together and talk about that project you’ve been considering. Come to a city council meeting and advocate for what you believe the city needs. We can all be leaders in our community and right now, we need your leadership more than ever.
Washington University in St. Louis Joint Degree Student in Law and Social Work