True Leadership is Service
by Alan L. Olsen, CPA, MBA (tax)
Greenstein Rogoff Olsen & Co. LLP
What makes a good leader? Is it self-discipline, intelligence, the ability to inspire others, or is it something else? Perhaps a better question might be; what makes me a leader? Far too often we seek leadership qualities in others, only to be disappointed. Each morning, the mirror reminds us of at least one person whose motives should meet all of our expectations. There is no limit to what an army of these individuals can accomplish; they simply need to take that first step. Before they know it they’ll be making the world a better place, leading by example and developing within themselves the very qualities they once sought in others.
During difficult economic times, community service and civic involvement provide outstanding leadership opportunities. One person transcending his own circumstances to help another is the most effective solution for many of our social and community problems. In most cases, the infrastructure for service is already in place. It costs cities and communities nothing, and volunteers can target the highest priority needs or individuals who require immediate attention. Whether you have highly valued skills, or just a willingness to help, chances are there is a local organization that desperately needs your help.
As far as training to become a leader is concerned, two distinct avenues come to mind. First, you simply roll up your sleeves and get to work. Second, no institution better trains young people to become the community leaders in this country so desperately needs than the Boy Scouts of America. At a young age, my parents taught me the importance of helping others and being involved. But this concept did not really become part of who I am until I earned my Eagle Scout Award; it’s been a habit ever since. Best of all, service is infectious; now, at my place of work, most of my colleagues are heavily involved in their communities.
Through volunteer service, one begins to develop true leadership qualities that help the community become a better place for us all. Some people are natural leaders while others have to work at it. But the crucial lesson is that anyone can lead by example. And service is the best way I know of to achieve leadership development for a strong business and community.