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Community-Driven Leadership

April 2, 2019

When we think about leadership, a lot of questions come to mind.

Are leaders born or made?

What makes a good leader?

What are the biggest challenges facing leaders today?

In addition to these questions, there are always new trends and movements related to leadership philosophy and practice. There is one trend in particular—that I believe is positive—becoming more and more popular. But like most good things, it can be taken to an unhealthy extreme. The trend is community-driven leadership.

As Americans, we have historically been an individualistic society. We are less reliant on other people, and we are pretty proud of that fact. This goes back to our founding principles and pioneering spirit. A capitalist society encourages people to work hard to pave their own way. But over the last several years, there has been a move to recognize the need for others and the value of community. This movement doesn’t knock individualism, but it reminds us that many of the things we seek can be accomplished with, and for, other people. Ultimately, it reminds us that we have a collective responsibility toward one another.

This community-driven culture has flowed into leadership. Leadership is becoming more about the team than the individual, and this philosophy is born out of a truth I believe wholeheartedly: Nothing of significance was ever accomplished without a group.

This is 100% true, but here’s my caution: Focusing on your team doesn’t relieve you of your individual responsibility and God-given calling. Remember the bystander effect? Working with a group always comes with the temptation to fade into the background, to expect someone else to pick up the slack, or to wait for another person to lead. Groups of people create and sustain movements that change the world, but there are always individual key players that act as catalysts to push them forward.


There were a lot of people and events at play, but ultimately, God used Moses to lead the children of Israel out of captivity in Egypt.

Mordecai advised, but ultimately, it was Esther’s role to go before the king.

Hundreds of scientists and philosophers sought spotlight in ancient Greece, but Plato and Aristotle’s influence changed the face of education forever.

Many Christians made up the early church, but God specifically used Paul to take the gospel to the Gentiles.

It took thousands of lives to defeat Nazi Germany, but Winston Churchill’s words stirred his country to persevere when he said they would never surrender.

A group led the Civil Rights Movements, but when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, it was a catalytic moment that changed that trajectory of America forever.

Countless individuals contributed to the end of the Cold War, but Ronald Reagan’s words at the Berlin Wall moved people to action.

A lot of people fought in South Africa, but ultimately, it was Nelson Mandela choosing reconciliation instead of retribution that made the biggest difference.

Thousands of people work for Apple to create, troubleshoot, and sell products, but ultimately, Steve Jobs was the key catalyst for the creation of the iPhone.

The group creates change, but often, the individual is the catalyst.

Today, it’s important to realize that you have a specific calling on your life. There is a plan and purpose for you, and the individual decisions you make and actions you take are significant.

As author Andy Andrews said, “When faced with a decision, many people say they are waiting for God. But I understand, in most cases, God is waiting for me.”

Understand the power of community, but don’t use it as a scapegoat to downplay your individual responsibility. Stop making excuses for why you aren’t doing something. Do it. Your individual action combined with the people around you will do something remarkable.

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