by Jill Ryan
Last week I had the good fortune of attending an Institute for Conservation Leadership event called “Leadership Learning Exchange.” The event was such an outstanding opportunity to share and learn from experienced conservation leaders that I have been thinking a great deal about my personal idea of leadership.
Webster’s defines leadership simply as “the act of leading,” and an Internet-based book seller offers over 10,000 titles on leadership, while there seem to be a virtually unlimited set of personal definitions. However, in my position with GLAHNF, I realize that the citizens and groups we communicate with regularly provide the best definition of leadership for me.
The citizen leaders that take on their local aquatic habitat protection and preservation battles around the Basin have many of the following leadership characteristics in common, all of which I greatly admire: 1) ability to see and understand a problem (i.e. a wetland being filled), 2) capacity to communicate the problem and its likely results to others (loss of habitat, flood control and filtering capabilities), 3) vision for remedying the problem (alternatives to filling such as avoiding the wetland area), 4) passion for the solution (saving a wetland and its values for the community), and 5) talent for turning the passion into inspiration in order to have others assist in securing a solution (signing on members or supporters to provide volunteer support, financial support, expertise, etc.).
All of you that have tackled local problems in your community are true leaders in my eyes, and my hat is off to you for all you do. Thanks!