This Blog was developed by Lia Putkaradze for the Centre for Training and Consultancy (CTC).

The Community Action Training (CAT) Program has become a life-changing educational program for me and my organization. I have become enlightened and empowered by the quality knowledge I received throughout the program. I had two weeks of intensive and interesting professional job-shadowing at Zemgale NGO center in Jelgava, Latvia, gaining multi-cultural competencies and skills to work with youth around Europe and globally. I feel determined and enthusiastic for what I do and plan to do. 

Now, I have fully validated my perceptions and ideas on leadership. Sometimes, I feel that this term has been misinterpreted or misused by the people many times in Georgia because people think that there are only a few leaders or there can be only a few leaders. Can I be the leader? Can everybody be a leader? These are the questions I hear from many people. I think that we are still in search of understanding who is the leader and how we can become a leader in our communities. 

Although one can google leadership, read essays, listen to leaders around the world and share one’s ideas, one still needs to learn and experience it; meaning we need to learn to think, sense, feel and love. It means that we need to start developing both emotional quotient (EQ) and intelligence quotient (IQ): if we want to be become effective leaders, in other words- a good leader. It means that we need to be concerned about problems and we need to seek opportunities. It also means that we will need to WANT it. If there is something that bothers you and you want to change that, you can. If you see the opportunity to develop something, and if you want to, you can achieve it. 

The formula may look like:  

Individuals seeing/observing/understanding: Challenges (Problems, Concerns, Issues) + WANTs (Motivation, Responsibility, Care, Decision-making,) + HOWs (“Soft skills” [Social and Life skills]; “Hard Skills” [professional knowledge and professional skills) = Leadership

Individuals seeing/observing/understanding: Opportunities (developments, changes, chances) + WANTs (Motivation, Responsibility, Care, Decision-making,) + HOWs (“Life skills” (Social and Lifeskills); “Hard Skills” (professional knowledge and professional skills)= Leadership

All 16 types of personalities (Myers & Briggs) can and have become a leader if each type decides to commit to each other and become a responsible citizen. You vote, you protest, you make your voices heard around communities and the world, but the one thing that you miss is sustaining the results of your civic activism.

The very simple and I would say a unique definition of civic activism is to increase the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes. It means that everyone in this world has the ability and choice to become a civic activist. Whether you work at the public, private, education or any other sector, you can experience civic activism. It takes your choice of becoming a responsible citizen. If you want to become a responsible citizen, you would need to act not react. Why? When we react, we search for blame; whereas when we act, we seek for better opportunities and solutions.

If I were to follow all that I have shared, I would summarize new leadership morale in terms of each individual taking the responsibility to develop and promote quality of life in their communities through civic activism, experiencing leadership, acting but not reacting, with participatory engagement and cooperation, and not using violent language or tactics. 

The experiences I gained in Latvia demonstrate the scope for new leadership morale in transforming societies through cooperation between the NGO and public sector. I want to share the example regarding youth work specifically. 

  1. Vision – They understand that they are responsible. 
  2. Accessibility – They create open spaces for cooperation on the local and municipal level. Municipality funds the resources to build local youth centers at all the parishes and NGO engages in providing quality and systematic education and training.
  3. Cooperation – Nothing has a long-lasting effect on youth work than these two sectors collaborating on drafting annual budgetary programs. Special Education and Youth Commissions are created to have open discussions on youth challenges and opportunities on a local basis. 
  4. Time – They do their job not because they need to do it within a specific time or to finish it at some point, but they do it all the time. It does not matter which political party comes to power; they feel responsible for doing the work all the time for a better future.
  5. Donor Money – They know that they have money coming from European taxpayers, and they value it. They put money on resources rather than creating comfort. In other words, they facilitate to have organization or program resources and those engaged in the youth centers are able to create their own comfort; so they know how to take care of their created comfort.
  6. People – Individuals working at the local municipalities, youth centers and Zemgale NGO center are local people who have strong compassion towards the locals and goals to live where they are. In a way, they feel settled for what they do. Therefore, when you know that you will live there and are passionate about people, you will want to experience leadership for people. 
  7. Loving the job – My mentors from the organizations and the education department loved their jobs. They are in their jobs because they want to and have the knowledge of how to get things done. However, loving your job does not only mean being happy; it is also about extending goodwill among societies. Youth centers operating in Latvia are developing, and they don’t wait for politics to bring about changes; they grow their capacities for a change. 

 

You don’t have to wait for years to become a leader or a civic activist. You can start now. You can learn, initiate and experience both responsibility and change. Nothing is worthier than changing the lives of people for better, anywhere in the world.