The concept of leadership and leadership development has been major topics in the urban community for decades, but yet, Leon E. Haynes, executive director of the Hosanna House, Inc. feels that there is still a need for emerging leaders within the community. Addressing the issue, his organization recently conducted the Emerging Leaders Forum outlining key characteristics and responsibilities necessary for to day’s leaders.
Often defined as having vision, being innovative and possessing honesty and perseverance, speakers William C. Richardson, Ph.D.; Yvonne Cook, A. William Schenck, Edward LaPuma and Gil Duncan concur that leadership is composed of such traits. “Leaders are developed and leadership is earned. Leaders humble themselves, have a willingness to serve and are good followers,” said Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation and vice president of Community and Health Initiatives.
In his keynote address Richardson pointed out that it is a leader’s responsibility to nurture, inspire and mentor other leaders. “It is a joy and opportunity to bring out the potential in others,” he said using the analogy that great pitchers need good batters. “People underestimate themselves and their ability and don’t think that they are a leader. But we are all called in our own way and time to lead,” he said. Richardson serves on the board of directors of the Bank of New York Mellon, CSX Corp., Exelon Corp. and the Kellogg Co. A recent retiree, he has devoted his academic career to research related to the organization and financing of health services in the United States. He has been affiliated with the University of Washington in Seattle, Pennsylvania State University and Johns Hopkins University.
With more than 30 years in the banking industry, Schenck, founder of Tri-State Capital Bank and former Secretary of Banking for the state of Pennsylvania considers the attributes of a good leader as being an excellent listener and showing respect for one’s opinion and values. He also identifies patience and compromising as positive leadership attributes.
Honesty, intelligence, competency, forward thinking, confidence and being fair- minded is how LaPuma describes leadership. “There is no consistent definition of leadership. Good leaders share similar traits as pointed out during this forum,” he said. “A leader is a dealer in hope,” he said, quoting French leader Napoleon Bonaparte. Retired since December of last year, LaPuma served as president of W.P. Carey International LLC. Through the Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Center he has advised several small business owners.
Duncan, an executive coach for Development Dimensions International and an ordained associate pastor at Covenant Church of Pittsburgh, says leadership comes through experience and knowing one’s self. “Have someone you trust assess your leadership readiness,” he suggested. “Ask yourself what are your current strengths and how should you leverage them? Where are your opportunities for development?” Duncan suggested to the audience of more than 125 bankers, foundation and nonprofit leaders, community leaders and entrepreneurs to take an inventory of their skills. “What are your enablers?” he asked.
Other than Haynes, executive director of the Hosanna House, Cook identified President Barak Obama, Benjamin Todd Jealous, National NAACP president; Tim Stevens, Black-Political Empowerment Project chairman; Rev. William Curtis, senior pastor of Mt Ararat Baptist Church; Dan Onorato, Allegheny County executive; and Marjorie Rendell, federal judge and current first lady of Pennsylvania, as people with good leadership skills. She pointed out that they are good listeners, self-disciplined, have courage, are focused and take the initiative. She advised all to identify and get acquainted with good leaders and to adapt their positive traits. “Have a leader’s head and a strong heart,” she said.
A leader in the arts and entertainment arena, forum attendee Kent Bey, president of the Royal Tribe Arts Organization, considered the forum very enlightening and worthwhile. “It is always a benefit to receive information from experts in their field, said Bey commending Haynes and his staff for hosting such an event.
As a way to further the conversation, the day ended with a roundtable discussion. Reintegrating much of what was communicated during the morning session, participants shared views and ideas in a less formal and intimate setting.
Considering honesty, integrity and character as key elements to leadership, Judge Cheryl Lynn Allen, moderator of the round table stated that she learned a lot from the speakers. “No matter what position you are in, we need guidance, leadership and correction,” she pointed out.
Round table participants included Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League of Pittsburgh; Scott L. Brown, vice president, Community Investment officer at Citizens Bank; David J. Hopkins, vice president of PNC Financial Services Group and Howard B. Slaughter Jr., Ph.D., president and CEO of Christian Management Enterprises, LLC.
“This was a great day,” said Haynes. “We need to have more conversations like this in urban neighborhoods. Providing continuous support and funding comes through, he said his plan is to make the forum an annual event.
A strong force in the community, Hosanna House, a multi-purpose community center is located in the heart of Wilkinsburg at 807 Wallace Ave. Serving more than 27,000 people yearly, the organization provides a variety of programs in the areas of workforce development, permanent supportive housing, health and nutrition, technology and education, early childhood education and youth.
With the slogan “A place called hope” and celebrating its 20th anniversary, this year’s theme is “Faith Hope Love: The Mission is Possible.” Signature events for their birthday year are the May 22 Highmark Walk, the Aug. 20 Summer Nights, the Sept. 11 Shadyside Presbyterian Church Golf Outing, the Nov. 19 Babette’s Feast and the Dec. 20 Ambassador of Hope Dinner.
(Information on Hosanna House, Inc. programs or upcoming events can be obtained by calling 412-243-7711.)