by Shannon Williams

Who are our real Black leaders?

While there are experts who offer insight in the area of leadership and programs designed to cultivate leaders, I don’t think the act of leading is so hard—it’s something we all can do.

Too often people are so focused on making a big, grandiose impact on the world that they miss out on some of the little opportunities to do well.

Before you accuse me of being a vision-killer, hear me out. By no means am I trying to squander anyone’s “dream big” philosophy because I dream big, too. I want people to set goals and be the absolute best person that they can be. However, in one’s quest to do so, it’s imperative that he or she does not lose sight of the little things that can be done to make a difference.

Consider this.

You can be a leader in your neighborhood simply by picking up trash on the sidewalk or reporting crimes that occur. You can be a leader with youth by mentoring a child. Or you can be your own leader by walking in the path that God has for you.

What I’ve observed over the years is that one doesn’t seek to lead, they just do what they feel is right and inadvertently they become a leader.

Think about it. Do you think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to be a leader? I really don’t think so. Instead, I believe his actions earnestly reflected what was in his heart and he did what he felt was right. It’s this kind of conviction that helps people through the challenging, discouraging times. You have to have something more than a desire to lead; you have to actually feel something for the cause you’re advocating.

If King simply sought to lead, yet didn’t give a damn about the plight of people, he probably would have thrown in the towel after the first sign of hostility—whether it was utterance of the word nigger, a bomb threat or an attempt on his life. But since I believe that in his heart of hearts King was committed to equality, he persevered despite the tremendous opposition he faced. His unadulterated actions quickly catapulted him to a level of leadership that few have been able to duplicate.

True determination and sincerity always reign supreme.

As I type these words, I can’t help but think of leadership in regards to politicians. In case you haven’t noticed from past editorials, I’m a bit disappointed with many of today’s “leaders.” Select elected officials (and even some who are running for office) are in it for the wrong reasons. For them, it’s more about status, being in the limelight and having power and less about positively making a difference in the lives of their constituents. Give me a passionate politician who genuinely cares about the people he serves over a self-serving opportunist any day.

While leaders are people who simply do the right things and don’t necessarily seek to lead, true leaders of today also cultivate leading in others. People who mentor and prepare the next generation to be compassionate leaders do so by not only exposing them to things they may have never been exposed to, but by also working with them to ensure a proper understanding. Doing this shows how essential education through experience and observation truly is. It’s kind of like that Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

So…as I close, I have a few questions for you:

Are you a leader…a true leader?

What quantifies your leadership status?

Who do you consider a leader and why?

Post your comments at by going to the opinion tab, clicking on this editorial and commenting.

(Reprinted from the Indianapolis Recorder.)

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