(10 Principles of Modern-Day Leaders Series)
The paradigm of leadership has shifted over recent decades. With multiple generations in the workplace, a globally connected world, competitive job markets, demand for work/life balance, and fast-moving changes in technology, leaders need to adapt to changes and understand how to effectively connect with those they are leading.
In this ten-part series, we layout ten principles that modern leaders can lead with to be the most effective difference makers they can be.
I didn’t know it at the time, but when I was young, there were countless leaders around my small community that helped shape and influence me to become the man I am today.
Of course, my father and two older brothers were my biggest influencers, showing me the value of hard work on the farm and what it means to be a good man. Those three, along with my hard-working mother, who demonstrated nothing but love and support for her three sons, shaped me most of all.
There were my dad’s friends in the farming community, showing me the value of what it means to be a good neighbor and supporting one another when someone down the road needs help.
There were various teachers, from kindergarten through high school, that inspired me on different levels and various subjects. From my interests in animals, my fascination with astronomy, my enjoyment for reading and writing, to my captivation from the human body which led me to study kinesiology in college, my interests were steered from those that educated me with passion and enthusiasm.
There were coaches who all helped me reach a higher potential as an athlete, teammate, and leader.
There were my friends’ parents who opened the doors to their houses (and their refrigerators) and made me feel as if I was a son of their own.
Every one of those people captivate the essence of what a modern leader does: They don’t just help their families grow stronger. They help other families in the community grow stronger. Through support, encouragement, wisdom, and more, their impact can help develop the youth in the community, and they know one day those youths will be the ones responsible for maintaining the community they love.
Not sure how to get involved? Here are five ideas to consider as you’re searching for ways to make an impact in your area.
- Volunteer – Whether it be homeless shelters, animal shelters, fund-raisers for a church, school, or local youth group, volunteers willing to contribute their time and energy are always needed. Not only will it positively impact the lives of those needing your efforts, you’ll extend your social circles and feel internally joyful for the time you spend making a difference.
- Coach – Was there something you loved to do and excelled at when you were younger? Get involved and pass that wisdom and passion down to a younger generation. Sports and athletics, playing an instrument, singing, auto-repair, building projects, or anything else you can contribute your knowledge to, find a way to inspire others. My friends that coach have told me it’s the most rewarding thing they do, and they’ll continue coaching for the rest of their lives.
- Attend Community Events and Meetings – Find out what’s going on locally and how you can serve the causes you believe in to help your community thrive.
- Host Gatherings – I live in a newly-developing neighborhood, and a few weeks ago some neighbors hosted an open house gathering to get to know the neighbors. There were retired folks, people that started their own businesses, people from all different parts of the US, people who loved the same music and movies, you name it. But we never would had known these fun details if it weren’t for that gathering. Now when we see each other in the neighborhood, we stop and talk and ask more questions to build on our new friendships. If you don’t know who lives across the street, host a small get-together and see what you learn.
- Make Your Home a Safe Haven for Your Kids and Their Friends – In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, he writes, “Studies of juvenile delinquency and high school drop-out rates demonstrate that a child is better off in a good neighborhood and a troubled family than he or she is in a troubled neighborhood and a good family.” Youths are sensitive to the environment they’re exposed to, and if you make your home a good environment for your kids and their friends, open your doors and allow them to feel at home. You’ll know they’re safe and you’ll know what they’re up, and you can’t ask for much more than that as a parent.