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What Is Involved in Community Leadership Development?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning

The tasks of community leadership development can vary, depending on the needs of the targeted community. Elements to consider include the basic needs of the community, issues that have been or continue to be a problem, and the overall state of the area. The process can include developing programs, finding resources, and enabling individuals to improve their community with as little intervention as possible.

A key aspect of community leadership development is to provide the tools to enable communities to lead themselves. This includes being able to communicate effectively with diverse groups, determine their needs, and facilitate actions that lead to self-sufficiency. In order for these efforts to be effective, it is often useful to acknowledge pressing issues in the short-term, but also to focus more attention on long-term solutions.

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Effective community leadership development often begins with acquiring an understanding of the community members. This includes building relationships, learning about the needs of the community, and researching the area itself. By using information about the area as a base, it can be easier to communicate with community members.

Building relationships is one of the most important aspects of community leadership development. Leaders acquire a deep understanding of an area and its residents by building relationships with residents. Understanding the general cultural, economic, and social traits of the community can be helpful in building trust and influence with a community.

Members of the community are often the best source of information about current needs and issues. Once these have been determined, they can be incorporated into community leadership development. It can be easier to understand the nature of the leadership needed when these issues and developing trends are clear.

When using research to bolster community leadership development, both qualitative and quantitative data can be useful. Quantitative information, particularly statistics, can reveal much about what has and has not worked in a community. It can provide some direction as to which problems people in the area may need strategies for addressing. Qualitative information can provide examples of situations to use as background, in addition to revealing the current and past nature of leadership in the community.

Depending on the needs of a particular group, community leadership development may also include creating a framework for the long-term. This framework is essentially a strategy for implementing daily progress towards community goals. It gives community members a system for taking action, which makes it more likely that the group will achieve lasting self-sufficiency.

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