Define leader | Editorial

What is leadership? Who is a leader? Such words are fuzzy and overused. Imprecise. It is one of those adjectives or identifiers that are best demonstrated by pointing — to a person or an accomplishment. A true leader succeeds not only in a public way, but in the more private ways of personal example. We all know that true leadership leads to positive results, to change. We all know examples of how lack of leadership brings failure.

A few disparate pieces of news this past week shows the importance in leadership in identifying problems and finding the means to solve them. The latest issue of Boeing’s magazine, Frontiers, includes a story about the deliberate effort made by the company to define and encourage leadership. Boeing has classes for employees at every level to find and nurture those qualities. For behind every successful company is a group of leaders who recognize that true success comes from ensuring a legacy of leadership that will continue when they are gone.

Within our own community, lessons in leadership come from everywhere. They are teachers, mentors, church members, neighbors, friends. They are people we may see only on the Sabbath, at the gym or at the library. But they are there — sometimes a bit hidden behind a desk, a pulpit or a uniform. They are the ones that make everyone feel included, joined by a common need.

They are people who step up to volunteer, whether it be making a meal for those whose loved one is enduring a long hospital stay or planting trees. They call in others to help. They make cards to sell to benefit pet shelters or drum up support for political candidates or referendums. They scrape up funds for wheelchairs or soccer balls; pack phone books to mail; offer their book shop for fund raising events; their home to international students or pull together friends to make and distribute peanut butter sandwiches to the homeless in Seattle.

They are people who see a problem or an issue and set out to do something about it. They pick up the phone, a shovel or their checkbook and get on with it. We are lucky to have so many of those people right here.


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