Even as the days became warmer with time marching from spring to summer, the passage also marked the end of my service as the Dean for the Hamilton County Leadership Academy (HCLA) Class of 2014. Certainly, the experience met all anticipation – and then some. Expectedly, the emerging community influencers taught me as much or more that I might have shared with them. And, friendships emerged that will long outlive our single year’s work.
Across the span of months that constituted our given mission, we came to understand that leadership, especially as it relates to community building and sustaining, is as much or more an exercise in connecting as it is any of a myriad of important tactical activities. One cannot be all things to all people, but the most effective communities are those wherein the chief leaders learn to rely upon the strength of network that its citizenry has amassed. We build relationships for our own joy, but even more so that we can rely on each other when needed. Perhaps it is so that we can join those in need with those best able to assist.
Leadership is not pounding the table; it is identifying the gaps and serving to fill them. The best among us has an innate desire to help and is likewise filled with a sense of authentic need. Quiet service with an eye to avoid the debilitating dependency precipitated by our own unmeasured generosity ensures the dignity of those we set out to help and remembers the virtue of dogged personal responsibility and the sublime reward of individual freedom.
HCLA promises its own that they will Learn, Connect, & Lead. It delivers. But one can also come to Experience, Interact, & Serve. Can’t we each choose to live in our communities with this as our motto? And, wouldn’t we be better for it?