As a community leader, you can effect change in the place that means the most to you. Even if you’ve never thought of yourself as a traditional leader, it is possible to step into this challenge and succeed at it. If you are worried that you don’t have the skills to become a community leader, you can develop those along the way.
Listen to People
It’s a misconception that being a great leader is all about getting people to do what you want. It should be about helping others to do what they want, but listening to others becomes particularly important when it comes to dealing with your community. This can be a less hierarchical position than one in a workplace or a formal organization, even if part of what you do ends up involving creating an organization. You need to think grass roots, which means understanding what people on the ground want and need.
Another misconception about being a leader is that it involves working on your own. In fact, you should be looking for others to collaborate with, and once again, within a community, this becomes particularly important. Look for those who are widely respected among the people that you want to help. Identify those who have skills that complement your own. If organization isn’t your strong point, find someone who has that skill set. Working with others can increase your ability to influence.
Mentor a Young Person
Being a leader in your community doesn’t have to involve organizing people to create change as a group. You can also work with people one on one, and one way to do that is a mentor for a young person. If you know a young person who has the potential to attend college but is facing various barriers, you may be able to help that happen. You could help them research schools and fill out applications.
Alternately, you could help current students or graduates who have returned to the community refinance their student loans so that they can get better rates and get out of debt more quickly. They may need a cosigner to do this if their credit isn’t good or they still haven’t established a credit history. You could potentially do this for them even if your own credit isn’t great. You can review a guide that explains more about cosigning on a student loan refinance with bad credit and how you can help.
Cultivate Necessary Traits
Whatever approach you decide to take to changing your community, there are several traits that you can work on developing that will improve your chances of success. One is being more flexible and adaptable. If you’re rigid, you won’t be able to reduce stress in your life and you may become discouraged when situations take a turn you weren’t anticipating. Another is working on your empathy. You need to try to put yourself in the shoes of others. Finally, you will need to develop courage. Important change via strong leadership means inspiring others to follow a shared vision and standing up to obstacles that arise along the way.