Over the past few months, as the Jewish Federation has spent a considerable amount of time planning events around leadership, I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about leadership and the role leaders play in our community, as well as the qualities I think are important for leaders to possess.
Every time the Jewish Federation chooses its honorees for its Honoring Community Leaders brunch, we use the following quote attributed to Harold Geneen, former President and CEO of ITT, “Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” In other words, how you act is more important than the words you use. This epitomizes what Michael Josephson, President of the Josephson Institute on Ethics, wrote in his powerful poem called What Will Matter:
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought but what you built,
not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched,
empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
These words illustrate that people, and especially our leaders, should be guided by their character and not the legacy they will leave behind. I am happy to say our community is full of people that fit this ideal.
I had the chance to spend most of a Sunday with some of our community lay leaders last month at the Jewish Federation’s Community-wide Lay Leadership Training and I was amazed that they embodied this same spirit. The community members came together in order to learn how they could be better board and committee members and work towards fulfilling their organization’s mission and vision.
The dedication and commitment all of our community leaders exhibit each day is incredible. They do it not for the glory or prestige, but rather because they want to make a difference in our community. And, more importantly, because they feel it is their responsibility to do so. It is these types of leaders that move an organization or community forward because they trust and believe in their leaders.
I am sure that if we listed qualities all of our community’s leaders possess, they would include words like dedicated, ethical, moral, compassionate, and vision or purpose driven.
Next time you see one of our community leaders, please express your appreciation for the dedication and commitment they demonstrate. And if you are one of our community leaders, on behalf of our community…. thank you. Our community is stronger because of the work you do.