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LEADS FORUM: Are you a leader? You might be surprised

Commentary • Apr 21, 2010 at 12:33 AM

Deborah Miller

Consultant/Strategist, D.S. Miller & Associates, LLC

Member, Leadership Erie County Class of 2010

People often think they need a specific title to be considered a leader. Actually, we don't need a title, or an organization, to lead. We just need a strong desire to make a positive difference and an awareness of the opportunities to lead each day at work, at home and within our communities. Some of the ways we can lead include influencing others to be the best, solving problems, contributing to the betterment of others and making the world a little better place.

Robert Greenleaf, in his book Servant Leadership, writes that he believes the whole purpose of leadership is to serve. He claims that true leadership is not about what you achieve, but what you give. Leadership becomes much more meaningful when it includes giving, service and contribution.

However, there are limited hours in our day and we must choose where to invest our energy. One of the best ways to do this is to ask, "How can I best contribute?" We all have unique skills and passions and we can have an even greater impact if we think of ways we can contribute that will do the most good. For instance, if you are skilled in construction, you might want to help out at Firelands Habitat for Humanity.

The familiar reply from many people is, "I just don't have enough time to volunteer." It is true that most of us work about eight hours a day and sleep another eight hours a day. But, what are you doing with your other eight hours? I challenge you to keep track of how you spend your other eight hours for two or three weeks. Chances are that you will have at least an hour a week that you could devote to giving back to the community.

Look around for the individuals and organizations that need your help. There are many opportunities to volunteer in our schools, churches, care facilities and non-profit service organizations.

Volunteer opportunities can also be found at The Volunteer Center of Erie County web site. thevolunteercenter.com .

The site lists more than 25 types of volunteer opportunities available in Erie County.

Some of them include receptionist, bloodmobile volunteer, gift shop attendant, habitat healer, book sorter, meal delivery, advocate, literacy tutor, foster grandparent, interviewer, museum docent, nature preserve aide, meal host or hostess, health and safety instructor and activity assistant. There is even a keyword search that allows you to search for volunteer opportunities in your zip code.

Your talents and skills are needed and you will experience a deep fulfillment when you give back to the community. Consider volunteer opportunities that can include the children in your life. You will not only spend quality time together, but you will also set an amazing example of the importance of giving back to the community. I think you will find that when you make the world a better place for others, you make the world a better place for yourself, too.

So, are you a leader? The answer is "yes."

I hope you choose to be the type of leader who makes a positive difference in the community. Your influence and inspiration just might make the world a little better place.

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