The Citizen Leader: Be the Person You’d Want to Follow

Over the course of this next week and next, I will be posting short commentaries on the essential elements of The Citizen Leader: Self-Awareness, Conviction, Character (Credibility and Personal Integrity), Courage, Contribution, Community, The Common Good and Gratitude.

The Citizen Leader: Be the Person You’d Want to Follow is a guide to help men, women, young adults and teens explore and respond to the questions: Who am I? and How do I want to be in the world? The book challenges people at all stages of personal and professional life to deepen their commitment to being authentic and courageous so they can say with conviction: I am a person I’d want to follow.

The book is structured for the readers to venture through on their own and at their own pace. It is also designed to let the readers partner with others — peers, coworkers, family, or friends, in school, at work, at home, in a seminar, in a book club — so together they can use its guidance, exercises and tools to create a forum for reflection, sharing, sharpening, learning and growth.

It is my hope that the insights my readers derive from The Citizen Leader will both enrich their lives and help them lead others in efforts to create great places for us all to live, work and play.

I have written The Citizen Leader in the hopes of making leadership education understandable, meaningful and actionable for adults, young adults and teens alike. I draw on the twenty years of teaching leadership seminars, instructing graduate students and coaching executives.

The first half of The Citizen Leader dives deeply into character, to help readers discern and define who they are today, and who they aspire to be tomorrow and well into the future. The second half provides a tutorial on citizenship in which I frame questions and suggest a process of inquiry to prompt and coach readers to ask themselves: What are the causes that I care about in my community? What initiatives could I champion that would contribute to my community? How can I harness the courage to follow through with the actions that will move the initiative forward? I call this line of inquiry and application active citizenship. It is my belief and experience that a candid assessment of character, a conscious commitment to be the person you’d want to follow and a courageous resolve to be an active citizen are preparation for, and the prerequisites of, engaging leadership – that is, leadership that would inspire other members of a community to want to follow your lead.

In my wildest dreams, the inquiry in my book will become standard fare in high schools and colleges — not the academic curriculum, I recognize, but in orientations, life skills, leadership programs and the like. Beyond that, I also trust that my book will make a meaningful contribution to the personal development electives at professional schools and in corporate leadership programs.