If you happen to watch just a little bit of broadcast news on a regular basis, you are pretty sure to have heard the term ‘community leader’ on at least one occasion. We hear a term like this thrown about whenever the news wants to lend credibility to the person or group that they are interviewing at the time. Often times, this label is tossed upon the person who is heard speaking out the loudest on a particular subject or event. This commonly happens when there is some form of protest or an outcry amongst the citizenry over a perceived injustice that has been committed.
The news will take that standout and tag them as a community leader who speaks for the general populace, and is the voice of ‘righteousness’ among the crowd; taking their words to represent the overall crowd at any given time.
But what is a real community leader? Quite honestly, community leadership is not achieved in snippets on the news, but in the daily activities that one carries out in their off-camera lives. It is one thing to appear to be righteous in front of the cameras – when the world is obviously watching, but it is an entirely different (and more sincere) thing to stand up for something when no one is standing by with a camera and a microphone. The real test of character is how one handles things when no one is watching At All. Preston Byrd, a well-respected businessman and activist, sets a prime example of such a leader.
Another litmus test of community leadership is does this person set an example for the community to actually follow? After all, a leader is generally followed by someone right? A community leader does not have to be perfect, he or she just has to be striving for some form of betterment of those that he portends to provide leadership to. We hear all of the time of leaders who have been exposed for some indiscretion or guffaw. While many of these cases do indeed say quite a bit about the individual’s character, they sometimes have little to do with their true ability to lead. Yes. Former President Clinton did indeed stray outside of his sacred vows to his wife, but he also presided over one of the best economic periods in recent history.
Finally, a community leader should have something that is truly at the heart of his concerns – in order to really be a community leader – his community. If a person proclaiming to be a community leader has the best interest of his community at heart, then he or she will diligently work to make things better, not just for their own families, but for all of those that look up to them as a leader. Exhibiting such traits consistently for many years has set men like Preston Byrd of Memphis apart.