Leaders also face the same challenges in that it is often much easier to work alone. However, leaders do not grow in isolation. They require community to flourish and develop. If leaders are indeed made and not merely born, then a process of intentional leadership development is required. Leadership development can best be described as an “integration strategy by helping people understand how to relate to others, coordinate their efforts, build commitments, and develop extended social networks by applying self-understanding to social and organizational imperatives.”1 Similar to a branch not being able to survive apart from the vine, leaders need the nourishment and support of others if they are to grow and reach their fullest potential.
The following quote summarizes the importance of community for leaders wishing to thrive:
Developing individual leaders without concern for reciprocal relations among people or their interactions within a broader social context ignores the research demonstrating that leadership is a complex interaction between individuals and their social and organizational environments.1
Why is this important?
It is important because communities also need leaders. If cities are to change and people served, leadership is required as leaders have the ability to not only see what needs to be changed but also how change must be implemented. In visioning what “could be,” leaders are charged with inspiring others to follow. So, does this happen overnight? The answer is clearly ‘no’ and John Maxwell sums it up best when he says, “Leadership develops daily, not in a day.”2
True and lasting development is a process and much like an athlete training for a race, daily sacrifice is required. The story of Nehemiah is a powerful example of a leader who was faithful each and every day in his role as cupbearer to the King. Though to the outsider his work may have appeared mundane, Nehemiah was faithful in his responsibilities, building his leadership muscle for what came next, a rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls in a mere 52 days.
It is important to note that Nehemiah did not accomplish this miracle because he was a great leader. Yes, he was a great leader but he never failed to recognize the true source of this miracle. Nehemiah believed God would deliver them and He did. Nehemiah also recognized that he needed community to accomplish the vision God gave him.
Nehemiah 4:6, in part, states, “We rebuilt the wall.”
This was accomplished by laying one brick at a time as each person took his/her place on the wall. For true city transformation, we must be willing to take our place on the wall, helping build our community brick by brick.
SALLT Chief Operating Officer
1 Day DV. Leadership Development: A Review in Context. Leadership Quarterly: Volume 11, Issue 4:581-613.
2 Maxwell JC. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Thomas Nelson Publishing. Nashville, TN. 2007.