This article was recently in the St. Catharines Standard talking about leaders in our Community.


Leadership requires more than a title

– Donald Quinn Dillon

True leadership comes from business and the community, not politics.

Elections are an exercise in looking for true leadership. During campaigns, I often feel disappointed at the display of some belligerent candidates spouting like emotionally frustrated toddlers.

These would-be political leaders are asking to be entrusted with hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars and yet in an open debate may display discourteous and immature behaviour. As a result, the key issues at hand are subverted to the hooting and hollering of the irate candidates. They seem somehow convinced that we, the voters, will be impressed by this display.

Do Canadians watch Saturday night hockey for the expertise displayed in the game or to see a fight break out? In the same vein, are citizens looking for a real leader or do they wish to be entertained by a Saturday night slug-fest?

Although there are many diligent civil servants, I would suggest the hot-headed candidates model themselves after people displaying real leadership in our local businesses and community. These leaders are not elected, but must continually work to earn the trust and confidence of their organization, the marketplace and the community, whether they come with an official title or not.

These leaders must earn the position through visionary leadership and a solid history of taking decisive action. And when business leaders don’t live up to their promises, the marketplace makes a sharp statement by taking their dollars elsewhere. In business, strong leadership is mandatory.

Some businesses go outside of their own concerns for profit and productivity to become leaders in the community. St. Catharines real estate broker Timothy Salisbury has launched a “will sell real estate for food” campaign, donating $100.00 to the Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold for every house sold between October 1st and December 15th, 2007.

Walker Industries, our local waste management company, contributes resources to many local charities and causes. Walker initiated an EARTH 1st program to provide an environmental mandate to its workplace ethic. Imagine a waste management company with green initiatives!

Rankin Construction has actively organized and contributed to a number of local projects benefiting the people of Niagara, including the Rankin Run for Cancer.

Recently Rankin was granted a contract for a plan that will use water from the Welland Canal to generate electricity. Three power station generators situated at locks in the canal will generate enough megawatts of power to supply 5,000 homes. This is the equivalent of taking 8,420 cars off the road, or preventing the injection of 38,900 tonnes of greenhouse gases into the air.

Jane Hanlon, project co-ordinator for community group Climate Action Now and a fellow Niagara Voice, organized an urban tree-planting campaign. Her group of volunteers went door to door, urging residents to ask the city for “street trees,” those planted in front of residential properties on municipal land.

Hanlon’s group is educating the public about this free, beneficial service offered by the municipality in an effort to bring more tree cover to the city. Community benefits include decreased energy requirements for heating/cooling our homes, more available oxygen and clean air, and better eco-systems for local birds and other fauna.

Will these businesses, organizations and people benefit financially from their goodwill and public exposure for good deeds done? Maybe, but so what? Good work is being done for local people by local people. These individuals and businesses are not waiting for regulations or incentives to make a real difference in our community. They are showing strong leadership and making it happen.

Leadership requires more than a title or a position in office. It requires emotional maturity and a clear vision for the common good, coupled with decisive action.

Donald Quinn Dillon is a St. Catharines massage therapist, speaker, and author of two books and over 50 articles in the massage therapy industry. He is a member of The Standard’s community editorial board.

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