The first time someone referred to me as a “community leader”, I raised an eyebrow. Yes, I was helping out with different things locally, but I didn’t see it as leadership, just volunteering. Over time, as I came to have a hand in running more and more groups and events, I came to accept that label. I suppose I was reluctant initially because I typically equated “community leader” with snobbishness, a sense of entitlement, and self-aggrandizing behavior. It took me a long time to realize a simple truth: If people are following you or looking to you for example, you are a leader. Whether you want to be a good leader is a matter of personal choice. I see a ton of areas that could be improved in the mirror; there’s always room for improvement.
Even if you’re going to events and not running things, you are still in a position of power. With every event you go to, and every event you decide to skip, you’re voting with your feet and your money. Without attendees, groups disappear.
I’m involved in my local community because I care. I want to see it thrive. I want to see people happy. I want to be surrounded with all sorts of fun pervocity. If everyone sat on their couches and wished for a thriving community, it wouldn’t happen. This leads to another basic truth in life: If you want to accomplish things, you have to actually do stuff. Don’t give up dreaming, but have a healthy mix of dreaming and doing.
All it takes is a handful of people who are willing to take the initiative in getting things started, whatever flavor of “things” that may be. Once people see what can be done and what they’re capable of, they step up and create a space that’s better suited for their interests and comforts. I believe in providing the encouragement to make people aware that the community is theirs to mold as they see fit. Obviously larger changes require more effort and resources, but the power is in each of our hands. It’s up to you to either use that power or sit on it. We are all community leaders.