Groundbreakers, It takes courage to be a leader. Quabbin 44, it takes courage to be a leader, Batgirls and Robin, it takes courage to be a leader, Partybox it takes courage to be a Leader, Leyden Leaders, well you already know… I don’t mean that in the cliché sense, but in the literal, I have something to lose sense. In my role of being authentic and speaking to those things that need to change, It may cost my job, friends and colleagues may question their perceptions or loyalty to me, it may cost me my life…

We were given this opportunity to expand our horizons, learning about the Pioneer Valley from hopefully a new lens, and given tools to take inventory of ourselves, and identify areas we wanted to personally develop. For some it was stepping out in front and speaking publicly, others, learning to take a step back; Our areas of development ranged from being a more compassionate and trusting manager, to increasing the use of agency and privilege.

I say it takes courage to be a leader because there are some ways of thinking, ways of being, paradigms that needs to be reevaluated and potentially reinvented. That takes courage. It takes courage to change who you have come to view yourself as.

As individuals here today, we are challenged with identifying what is right and harnessing that with greater intention to achieve forward momentum toward a greater vision or a goal, in our respective industries, and in some ways globally. We are also charged with questioning what is wrong, addressing it, and if it’s within our power, dismantle and reconstruct; Design thinking.

Leadership is really a set of qualities, and hopefully, those qualities allow a person to acknowledge their position and agency and move on to a different, more elevated place. That place sometimes starts with a vision or is born out of necessity. We can all lead, for there is often the erroneous thought that in order to lead you need to have followers… But I posit that in order to lead you need to walk out a set of characteristics… it is incumbent that you live your life in a way that people trust what you say because your actions fall in line. That we make the right choices, even when they yield less than favorable results. That’s why leadership takes courage. The courage to be able to move in a direction that may be contrary to popular or favorable opinion. It takes courage to create a line item that considers the community served, or underserved, and leans into their best interests.

To those of us who lead without authority, take up a charge to examine your station, surround yourself with people who may share in, and help propel your vision forward, because with or without direct reports, employees, or others in our charge, we can still make a difference by the path we take or create, allowing someone else the ability to see that it is possible.

Some” Takeaways” that I have learned from this LPV experience are; There is the danger of a single story. Shared experienced is not the same experience. Though we may have the pathos, we don’t have the ethos to speak for someone else. Humility as a leader means being able to take inventory of what you possess, and either seek to obtain it, or surround yourself with those who can provide it. Ethos.

In conclusion, to quote our Leadership Development Plans “To be a Spark you need to recognize that there are decisions you can make each day that will allow you to build influence with others and provide an inspiring example.”

“Love mercy, seek justice, walk humbly…”

Taniesha Burton, LPV 2020