Community Leadership Development

The goals for community leadership development are that a significant number of students are moved to participate in committees that are taking collective responsibility for the program, benefiting people other than themselves, although of course including themselves. It can also mean that they take on individual leadership roles designed to improve the functioning of the program or improve the community or benefit people who will come behind them.

While the first step of leadership is taking responsibility to make things go right for oneself, eventually leadership must include making things go right for other people as well. Learning to subordinate one's own interests to the interests of others and becoming the chief servant of one's constituency requires a struggle against the dominant societal values of selfishness and cynicism. Exercising leadership also includes influencing people with power to use their power to benefit other people. Learning to do this requires a struggle against deeply ingrained and widespread feelings of powerlessness.

Objective measures are needed for showing the extent to which YouthBuild students take on the values, the attitudes, the behaviors, and the commitments of community leadership, as well as the skills needed to be effective. Without some objective measures, it will be difficult to keep the attention of future YouthBuild managers on this measure. We might have to devise a measurement such as a percentage of students who participate systematically in an ongoing leadership role for at least six months, either on the policy committee or another committee, or in assigned roles assisting staff to fulfill management functions; and another percentage who emerge as apparently enthusiastic, respected, potential community leaders with identifiable skills.

A list of leadership skills and competencies, which the National Directors Council has agreed constitutes skills that all students should learn, has been developed. The young leaders who reviewed these program standards recommend a system of self-evaluation against these skills as the first measure. Programs are encouraged to do this at their own initiative.