What does it mean to be a leader? Traditional notions of leadership include the idea that leaders are to know and carry everything on their own. We believe it is time to turn this notion on its head, break down what we know and re-learn leadership from the ground up. This is an important role in our community so it is equally important for us to question the assumptions that we have.

When reevaluating leadership, we can approach it with three intentions:

1. Change of mindset – Can we let go of the idea that the definition of leadership is the authoritative leader? Can we instead, move towards this notion of a ‘leaderful’ person, or the leader in everyone. An individual that exhibits humility and seeks to serve others rather than power for its own sake means that conditions can be set in place for everyone in the community to play a part.

2. Pay attention to the micro-interactions – The little things that make a difference in a community-led context can have much larger, positive consequences. Constant engagement and invitation to participate, means those micro-skills within the community can help to foster leadership in not just yourself but others too. 

3. Staying hopeful in the face of complexity – Community leadership can be messy and intricate. The scale of the issues that organisations and communities face are beyond the scope of the traditional notion of what a leader can handle on their own. As a community, we need to learn to awhi this messiness, not become disheartened, stay hopeful and work with the polarities of an ‘and/and’ situation – not the ‘either/or’. By doing so we can foster collective responses to complex issues.

As individuals, it is possible for all of us to lead at different times. Whether this is at work, with our families, playing sport, in the marae or church. To build local leadership we need to involve the whole community, hapū or iwi, drawing on these leadership skills of the individuals and develop these strengths in order to work together.

Instead of a single leader who carries the wants and needs of a community on their shoulders, it is time to focus on weaving the contribution of everyone connected to a place/whenua.

Our upcoming Community Building Block: Leaderful Communities, facilitated by myself, Anna Parker, and Chris Jansen from Leadership Lab, is a collaboration to explore leaderful practises. It is not a roadmap for leadership, rather some pointers to a reflective practise designed to help you reimagine what you believe leadership is, providing you with tools and insights to support the leader in everyone. 

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