Last week, my communications class read a chapter on “Leading Groups.”
I had assigned them a presentation on leadership role models in their lives in which they should cite specific concepts. There were “task leadership” concepts such as initiating and coordinating (drawing out multiple perspectives from members) or “process leadership” concepts such as encouraging and mediating. Some students addressed leadership style such as authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire.
Two leadership styles were the most interesting; transformational leadership, described by T. Whitford and S.A. Moss as striving “to change, elevate and unify the goals of followers as well as inspire them to pursue challenging and shared objectives.” The second was the servant leader who, according to Robert K. Greenleaf, “begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.”
As a result, I listened to 90 college students give presentations about mothers, fathers, teachers, pastors, coaches, employers and others. What struck me was that leaders are all around us every day. For the most part, they work quietly, humbly and diligently. They truly listen, practice acceptance and empathy, nurture community and are other-oriented.
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These are leaders who make our world livable, who lift us up. These are the leaders of future generations who will never be famous or rich. But that’s OK. They have higher aspirations.
Look around today and thank someone who is a leader in your life. And remember, especially this week, that there are leaders and there are those to whom we give power.
Helen E. Prien, Lock Haven