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Thoughts on Leadership

by Jeffrey Strully and Laura Broderick

Jeff & Laura work in Los Angeles at Jay Nolan Community Services. They are also personal and professional allies. We are pleased to have them in this issue of Inclusion News.

In our experience, people with labels want ordinary lives in the community. They want the same day-to-day things we all do: love, family, a job, a home, friends, money, control, fun, a belief in something and someone, a chance to contribute and ordinary experiences. Some people may need a little more support than usual to achieve these goals.

The role of leadership in human service and education is to stand with people during their journey. It is our role to assist and support people as they define what they want in life. It is our role to be human, to be real and to listen, especially to people who don't talk with words. We must get to know people, to stand in their shoes, to be honest and loyal. Leaders must be truthful; see capacity, strength and talent in everyone. They must constantly look for another way of doing something when the answer isn't simple. Leadership is learning to be a midwife.

Leaders work WITH , for and not OVER people. Our story of learning about leadership together allows us to tell stories about vision, heart and doing justice. Nothing happens without leadership in any organization. Leadership is thoughtful and committed people standing together to create a more just and inclusive society.

Leaders in this field must have vision; a vision which is crystal clear and undaunted by barriers. Leaders embody their vision in every way; living and breathing their message. Leaders are learners not knowers; willing to make mistakes and own them, willing to take risks and chances. Leaders know themselves well, their strengths and weaknesses. Leaders are good listeners, have compassion, are genuine and honest. Leaders have character (and often are characters). Leaders often have a quality and a presence that attracts people to work with them. Leaders have an open door always. Leaders have no fear because they believe in themselves and their vision.

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