Column: We can all be leaders

When we think of leadership, the images that come most readily to mind may be a business owner poring over financial statements or perhaps a 5-star General directing strategy over a table-top model of the battle field. We might think of the President conferring with his advisors in the Oval Office or a police chief dispatching his lieutenants out to the city streets to deal with a crime spree. These images of leadership have one thing in common: leaders who are at least one step, and likely many more, away from the frontlines of the activities they are directing.

We know that leaders are dealing with the complexity and scope of challenges like a business confronting a competitive market, an army fighting a war, the chief executive dealing with critical domestic and foreign affairs, or law enforcement trying to keep order and protect the innocent. Such situations, we may think, are beyond our ability to make an impact; only those folks elevated to the top of the chain of command can handle them.

Often, we don’t realize that effective leadership can be exercised from any “chair” so to speak, just as every member of an orchestra can contribute to the overall harmony of the music being played.

In our quad-city area communities, there are many opportunities to step up and be a grassroots leader. Like the business owner, we can make an executive decision to channel some of our funds to a community effort, contributing to the restoration of the Elks Theater or becoming a Friend of the Prescott Public Library are some examples.

Like the General, we can wage war on the enemies of health and happiness by giving blood, participating in an Alzheimer’s walk, signing up to be an organ donor or volunteering at Yavapai Regional Medical Center.

While foreign affairs may be substantially out of our hands, there are critical domestic issues that we have the power to impact. Meals on Wheels and People Who Care recognize the importance of ensuring the well-being of area seniors. Prescott Creeks and the Citizens Water Advocacy Group confront the potential crisis of dwindling water supply and preservation of natural waterways.

Protection of the innocent isn’t just the job of our law enforcement organizations. Over 400 children in the quad-city area leave school on Friday uncertain of their next meal. To ensure all children have the nutrition and energy to learn and grow, the Hungry Kids Project fills backpacks with healthy food for the weekend. We can help lead the way for our communities’ children through financial and volunteer assistance.

One of the best ways to ensure a steady supply of leaders in the Quad Cities is to let current leaders know that their efforts are appreciated and to inspire others to follow in their footsteps. Prescott Area Leadership’s annual Leader of the Year Awards do just that. The awards recognize a man, woman and male and female youth leaders for their contributions to their communities and schools. Youth leaders of the year each receive a $2,000 scholarship and four finalists receive $500 each.

You can demonstrate frontline leadership by nominating someone for Leader of the Year at www.prescottarealeadership.org/mwy-nomination or becoming an Awards Sponsor at www.prescottarealeadership.org/mwy-award-sponsorship-form. And if you simply buy a ticket and attend the awards dinner at the Prescott Resort on April 11, I guarantee you’ll be inspired by the adult honorees and filled with hope for the future by the youth award winners!

Alexandra Piacenza is a 10-year resident of Prescott and the Immediate Past President of Prescott Area Leadership.