Lessons in leadership: Being a leader is about dedication to a cause

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The Owen County Community Leadership Program organized by the Owen County Extension Council, had its fourth meeting last week.
We spent time discussing and learning ways that we as community leaders can get people excited about being involved.  The common thing that everyone asks is how to motivate people to get involved in making the community better.  There where several “theories” outlined but one that we often overlook is the two factor theory.  This theory is about how you need to know the way things will work before you can get to the congratulations and thank you stage.
The achievement, recognition for accomplishment, challenging work, increased responsibility and growth and development, is the easy part. It’s easy to arrange a banquet to present awards, write articles for the paper, or give out a “good job” pat on the back.
But what is often times missing from community volunteer involvement is that people typically don’t realize what it is that is required or asked of them to see a project through to completion.  
By this, we often feel a need to get involved in something that we believe in, something that we feel will improve the quality of life for either our immediate family or for the larger community family who we are involved in. This is where leaders in the community, elected or not, need to help identify and make known the things needed to get a project started and where the project is designed to go. They need to help identify the policies and administration that is already in place within the community that they could become involved with.  They need to know the “working conditions” or the things that would be asked of them, i.e. time commitments, where they will be working on the project, who the others are they will be working with, which leads to the interpersonal relations.
People will become more involved if they realize that the people they are working with are heading toward common goals with their own.  
Many times, committees are staffed with highly-qualified volunteers who can not only enrich the lives of the community as a whole but also the other volunteers on a project.
So get out there and connect, find a project for the community, be it your immediate family community or the broader community as a whole.
And know you will reap what you sow. No matter how small you think the project is to the community as a whole, you’d often times be surprised that there are either already groups formed to address it or there are other people waiting for someone else to lead the efforts.

Casey Ellis
and Glen Bailey