Even leaders need direction
Leadership is difficult to write about. If you ask 10 people what it means to them you will get 10 different answers.
Some say leadership is a state of being rather than a state of doing. Yet those recognized as leaders by their community are doers . they get things done. They demonstrate a personal and powerful commitment to public service.
The mission of the American Leadership Forum is, “joining and strengthening established leaders to better serve the public good.” Let’s use ALF for short.
Leaders serve. “Servant leadership” has been coined to describe this apparent anomaly.
Don’t leaders get out in front of the pack just long enough to get others to do the hard work, and then take credit?
Not ALF “fellows.”
Men and women from the southern Rocky Mountain region are nominated to endure and hopefully complete nine months of experiential learning. Having been through the program, I can say that’s a huge, intense but rewarding commitment.
To see what I mean let’s look at this year’s upcoming class.
In September 25 carefully chosen classmates will spend five days in the wilderness developing into a cohesive team.
Three days in November explore the inner path challenged leaders take to center them for the upheaval change brings. Ethical issues will always emerge in leaders’ lives and communities.
February brings four days of what is called the “cultural bridge experience.” Use your imagination. Think back to the first time as a child you heard the word “Indian,” or “Mexican” used in a derogatory way.
Conflict is inherent in life. Transforming it into something positive is a learned skill. Try facilitating, mediating or negotiating civic chaos into positive civil engagement and discourse.
If you make it through the final three days of “leadership in action” in May then you can call yourself an ALF “fellow.”
Add the completion of a collaborative project over the next year or so and you become a “senior fellow.”
It saddens me to think that the 2003 ALF class may be the last for the Rocky Mountain Chapter.
ALF was founded by Joseph Jaworski in 1981. The reason was a noble one. Traditional leadership models were failing to create level playing fields where all voices were heard in civic discourse.
Today over 1,500 leaders across the country form regional networks to make a difference across all sectors of community life.
But tough economic times and a perception that the local ALF chapter is competing with other leadership programs is bringing change. That may not be all bad. A merger with one of those organizations is in the works.
In the meantime, know a community leader you’d like to see gain an effective regional perspective? Let me hear from you.
It could transform their life. It certainly did mine.
Bill Kight lives in Glenwood Springs. His column runs every other Sunday.
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