Updated: Feb 12
Comment: The United States is undergoing a variety of transformations leaving many American citizens feeling helpless as a veil of uncertainty shrouds the future. The United States has been different than the other 200 or so countries around the world. The concept of American Exceptionalism is the belief that the United States does not conform to the rest of the world because the United States is of a fundamentally different character. Exceptionalism is built principally upon the freedom to exercise democratic processes. In practicing Exceptionalism there is a venue for the citizens to participate in planning their future other than reliance on ineffective or disinterested leadership that is classic of tyranny and aristocracies. Under this venue of Community Leadership, any citizen can take up and affect change and this is how to do just that - effect change.
One of the challenges with mainstream media, churches, and even the United States government is an overwhelming volume of demagoguery. Everyone seems to be pointing out one side or the other of an argument. While often there are calls to action, no one is taking action or solving the problem. The most probable reason is that many people lack the will, training, or skills necessary for mobilizing the cause into action. Community leadership enables the average citizen to take action, address grievances, affect outcomes, and impact the community and lives. Anyone or group can undertake any cause by getting organized the right way.
Note: Community Planning is socialism and intends to transform the community away from a republic form of democracy. Whereas, Community Leadership solves a community problem through democracy and democratic processes.
A community leader is a person who works with others to develop and sustain the health of the community resting on several key points:
Leadership is not the end in itself, but the mechanism to something else.
Community leadership occurs whenever anyone works to develop and sustain a healthy community.
Community leaders are identified by their works, not their position or traits.
Community members are a sufficient resource pool for any cause.
A healthy community is a place where the citizens' economic, social, physical, cultural, and spiritual needs work for the common good and the creation of a cooperative future.
In this posting, two books will lend support to the notion of community leadership. The framework is laid out in the Community Leadership Handbook for establishing and leading action. Managing Policy Reform offers the Democratic Reform Process, DRP, model. Together these two resources are the basis for a layperson, a citizen, to pull together an action committee, advisory council, small group, or community development team. The purpose is for citizens to take action in their community. It does take work and it does work.
Success requires one to work with persistence, many hours, and to have a plan, strategy, and goals to which people can relate. The book Masters of Success has essays from the successful. They discuss their challenges and how they overcame those challenges as they started businesses, sought political reforms, or saved the environment. We all admire the greats, the titans, and those who led people and organizations to amazing successes. Success is not out of people's reach and requires learning, modeling, reflecting, and emulating what works.
Who can take action? Anyone can perform this action and have. However, if the effort is governmental, citizens or registered voters should have greater credibility rather than non-voting citizens, illegal aliens, green card holders, felons, and others in the system. Although, some political stakeholders in government accept all folks regardless of their affiliation to the government and community.
The Core Competencies
To lead a cause, there are several competencies required; the ability to frame ideas, build social capital, and mobilize resources. These undergo a process that results in a deliverable.
Framing ideas determine what, why, and how the action is taken. The process of framing involves analysis, values, motivations, vision, strategy, and focus. When developing a compelling vision and setting priorities that frame the action and ideas several practices are involved:
Identifying community assets
Analyzing community problems