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  • Writer's pictureKendra Klink

Defining Our Strengths

This week DeKalb LEADS steering committee and all-around nonprofit expert, Kendra Klink, shares her perspective on leaning into her strengths to move the community forward!

Developer. Empathy. Achiever. Intellection. Restorative.

That is how Clifton Strengths defines me. Those that know me well are likely not surprised by this assessment.

I have never considered myself a leader; nor have I considered myself a follower. I was raised as a team player. I have always preferred to work with people to accomplish goals whether it is inside or outside of the board room, office, committee, etc. I prefer “we” statements to “me” statements. Leadership has never been about me — I’ve never enjoyed the spotlight.

I believe that leadership is an action, something you do every day to inspire others to accomplish goals they may have never imagined possible. Leaders don’t bark orders at people to get things done, leaders empower those around them with the desire and tools to make it happen for themselves.

Philosopher Lao Tzu summed up this thought when he said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Throughout my 20 plus years working in the nonprofit sector, I have experienced various types of leadership styles from those managing me, those on my team managing others, and from board members. I gained something from every one of these people on how I want to champion my team as well as traits I keep out of my leadership style.

My goal, like that of a role model of mine, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is to be remembered as “someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. To do something ... outside of myself.”

Leadership can take many forms. It is important to find one’s own way, own purpose, and own identity when developing her leadership style. Some leaders are action-oriented, and others stick to a strict agenda or plan. Some leaders take charge giving orders or directives and others sit around a table to develop a plan asking for those participating to volunteer to take on tasks. None of these habits are right or wrong. The key is that we are true to and honoring of ourselves, values and strengths.

I believe that everyone has a seat at the table and brings something special to a conversation. If we can redefine what a “Leader in DeKalb County” looks like, sounds like, leads like, to incorporate all people, voices, and styles we will only continue to grow stronger as a community.

Kendra R. Klink, executive director of The James Foundation, is a member of DeKalb LEADS steering committee.

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