What Makes a Good Community Leader?

Community leaders have many different temperaments and styles. Some leaders are more demonstrative while others lead quietly but command respect. Yet there are a few common threads among successful leaders.

They must possess empathy, the ability to inspire, strong communication skills and pride in their community. Effective leaders are problem solvers who involve all members of their teams. They get people to work together toward a common goal. They focus on building effectiveness – the ability to get things done.1

Mobilizing a group to develop community support for, say, a neighborhood clean-up or a school improvement campaign can be a complex undertaking. Leaders must often persuade others to work with them and address a range of opinions and personalities.

Organizational models are evolving. Administrators are streamlining traditionally rigid bureaucracies as they’ve come to understand that such systems often serve not constituents but the bureaucracies themselves. Effective community leaders are a key to success in this new environment.

“New Public Management”

The one-size-fits-all solutions of entrenched organizational structures are giving way to the more goal-oriented models of the “new public management.” Performance goals are taking the place of blindly adhering to rules and regulations.

Additionally, public systems are adapting to the new ethos and becoming more decentralized, with more outsourcing to private contractors for goods and services. Public entities are increasingly using market mechanisms to improve performance.

These changes have had an impact on the job of the public administrator: Community leaders now have more discretion to manage. At the same time, leaders must still learn and adhere to the old core values, like transparency, accountability, and professionalism. Community leaders must be models of rectitude, without cutting ethical corners, and they must set an example of confident leadership.2

A New Transparency

The public has learned to expect openness and honesty from their public leaders; the old secret ways, typified by smoke-filled-room decision making, are widely condemned nowadays (to say nothing of being in violation of open meetings laws). At the same time, public leaders are openly acknowledging that their salaries are paid for by the citizenry, which has placed its faith in accountable leadership.

Professionalism means doing a job respectfully, competently, and straightforwardly. It also means showing proven leadership capabilities.

Many men and women who aspire to public administration positions are enrolling in Master of Public Administration programs, which teach candidates about how theory applies to the real world.

One such program is offered by Anna Maria College, where students learn, among other things, how to effectively provide community leadership; how to work with governing bodies; the fundamentals of managing people, money, and information; and how to raise productivity.

Learn more about Anna Maria College’s Online Master of Public Administration degree program or speak to an admissions advisor at 877-265-3201.

1https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/10-characteristics-of-community-leaders/
2https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/10-characteristics-of-community-leaders/