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The Challenge and Privilege of Leadership

March 4, 2009


istock_000007039821medium_bwIf you lead, you are setting a path. Sometimes you are creating a path where none has existed. Leadership takes courage and risks failure. Leadership, by its definition, also implies the presence of others who will follow, provide support or constructive opposition. Leadership can be an exciting place, a lonely place, and a treacherous place.  

I have long held personal responsibility as a high value. I believe that when we assume responsibility for our own lives we are also taking personal responsibility for the larger community and our shared world. It’s easy to feel helpless as the cultural machine churns around us, and it is even easier to blame a thoughtless corporation, a greedy politician, or someone closer to our hearts. It is difficult and uncomfortable to take a more active role and recognize that our personal decisions (even inactions) do make a difference. Whether it is taking a cloth bag to the grocery store, voting in an election, or instituting a programmatic change in the workplace, we find ourselves in a time that is demanding courage, recognition of our personal responsibility, and honest leadership.

Author Edwin H. Friedman says,

Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future.

In this issue of Community Connections, you will find the Minnesota Project staff defining themselves as they share with you their visions of the future. You will see The Minnesota Project assuming leadership as we look at complicated issues and risk new paths and new opportunities to find real life solutions.

As I move into my second year here as executive director, I appreciate the leadership of our Board of Directors. They have devoted time, money, and ideas, digging deeper into our mission and setting a clear path by creating renewed guiding principles. I appreciate the leadership from past staff and donors. I am amazed by the innovation and now-established programs and principles that were accomplished under their watch. I also appreciate the new ideas that are being generated by current staff. They are taking leadership seriously, looking beyond what we have done in the past, testing new ideas, risking being out in front. We are looking to you and challenging you to stand with us.

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