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Empowering Others: The Essence of Community Leadership 

A community can grow by stepping back and allowing other people to take the lead. 

It’s not just about making a space for people to gather, it’s where an environment is shaped for people to feel empowered to contribute and step up.

Let me share from first-hand experience the importance of promoting others and how it can benefit both the community as a whole and the people who feel a part of it.

A Community Leadership Conundrum

No community can thrive solely on the efforts of one person.

This is a reason why so many communities falter is that momentum and effort lie on the shoulders of the individual who began with the best intentions, only to realise that the people who they wanted to push forward with, just aren’t ready. 

When everything is dependent on one individual, it becomes vulnerable to stagnation and decline. Leaders may lose interest or become overwhelmed, leading to a loss of momentum and engagement. By empowering others to lead, community leaders ensure that the community can continue to thrive and evolve.

Growth comes from nurturing a network of leaders who are invested in the community’s success. What it means is that a new life starts to shape. For instance, I started YATM, but now looking at my role as more of a facilitator, empowering other people to take ownership and initiative.

Proof For You

Our March YATM Lunch Club was led by Mo Humphries. Mo had never led a panel before, so represented a big step into an unfamiliar space. 

A few months ago, I asked who would like to step up and host the lunchtime events (this idea was presented to YATM Club members). It was there as a way to give people a ready-made platform, where the pressure is not on to sell the event but to deliver.

YATM Lunch Clubs have become sold-out events, so the reputation and familiarity is helping people make it a part of their calendar.

Mo did superbly well. It’s a skill to have, to glue the whole occasion together and the segments that play their part in the show. To help Mo feel at ease, it’s knowing that everyone else is on her side, but this still presents nerves when delivering to a full room.

Mo explains, “The pressure is on when you’re holding someone else’s baby and you’re following in the footsteps of others who have hosted. 

Whilst I’ve organised many events I’ve never ‘hosted’ or ‘chaired’ someone else’s. I put myself in the mix as I wanted to be stretched. I was worried my mind would go blank, but with good preparation and adding my own spin it worked out well. I’m proud of myself and glad I seized the opportunity. It turned out to be fun and a learning experience which is what YATM is about. People want you to succeed.

It was a learning experience which is what YATM is about.”

Letting Go To Grow

Stepping aside and others taking the reins began in 2021.

Matt King led the YATM Learning sessions. These were free online events during lockdown when we had a topic and people shared their expertise. 

Letting go can be hard, as it’s handing over what you have poured your heart and effort into building a community from the ground up. When you get over your own control insecurities, you recognise it is essential that growth and resilience come from decentralisation and shared leadership. I also realise that other people accept the responsibility that they are stepping into a space that has taken a lot of hard work, they don’t want to let anyone down.

YATM Lunch Clubs have a variety of people stepping up during the events. From the main section to our World Record attempts, or someone sharing the work they are doing, it all comes from people knowing the environment that is made for them is where they feel valued, supported, and empowered. It always starts with building a culture of trust and inclusivity, where everyone’s contributions are recognised and appreciated. 

If you make that space for people to come together, it makes sense to provide opportunities. This might include hosting live events, collaborative projects or just offering encouragement and guidance to people who show initiative.  

Learning From Experience 

The biggest benefit is personal and collective growth.

When you step back and allow other people to take charge, it offers new insights, and skills and for the person in the spotlight to also be seen by others. It feels good when they get the attention, it’s their tune to shine. It can serve as a huge morale and confidence boost.

It also means new approaches are brought to the table. For instance, Mo is structured in her thinking and made sure that everything happened within the time allocation. 

Here are five areas I now know when you let other people lead from the front.

1) Letting Go Of Control, Encourages Growth

Holding on too tightly stifles progress. You have to embrace the organic evolution of your community by allowing people to contribute in their own way. When other people lead the Lunch Club events, it emphasises the importance of YATM’s openness to diverse ideas, fostering an environment where individuals feel supported rather than dictated to.

2) Encourage Delivery

Empower people within your community to take ownership of their contributions. By entrusting others to lead events in familiar surroundings, they can infuse their personal touch, driving the initiative forward while honing their skills. For instance, it could be an ability to interview, or an awareness of timing, or just a warmth that the audience leans into. When the time is right to ask again to lead, they now have experience.

3) Avoid Micromanagement 

While providing guidance is essential, micromanaging hampers growth. By stepping back and giving people the space to execute their ideas, you allow them to take ownership. When you start with your endeavours you have to set the tone of the room, but as time progresses there has to be a way to open up and let others step in. When everything is on one person it can become exhausting.

4) Confidence Through Action

When you stick with something and over time, people can see the value it provides, it becomes the reward through perseverance and belief in the community’s potential. The only way YATM Lunch Club is now in an encouraging place is by doing and making it happen. Positive feedback from attendees reinforces confidence and serves as motivation to continue innovating and expanding the initiative.

5) Collective Energy

Empowering people to step up and lead injects fresh energy into the community. Knowing that support is in abundance encourages people to take on new challenges and drive the initiative forward. It lifts everything. By recognising and appreciating diverse strengths, the entire initiative gains depth and resilience. It also ensures that the community remains relevant and responsive to the changing needs and the people who feel a part of it.

In a nutshell, this is how it has worked for people to step and lead within the YATM space. It has been a journey of discovery over the years. 

1) Create a space that draws people in, that they enjoy

2) Consistently deliver and communicate (this helps to build credibility and trust)

3) People start to make themselves known to you (familiarity with each other is key)

4) Opportunities to lead emerge (you hand the keys over) 

Ultimately, trust is key. Over time, nothing becomes a risk.

Lets Round-Up 

Promoting others to lead is not just a nice idea, it’s essential for the long-term success and vitality of any community. 

The need for strong and inclusive communities has never been greater. Plus, you can also uncover hidden talents and potential.

As we empower people to lead, we can pave the way for a brighter, more vibrant future for all.

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