The Price of Leadership

Everyone wants to be a leader.

We all want to learn from the best and yearn to be mentored by current business leaders, particularly in the young professional community.

Should becoming a leader come with a hefty price tag for young professionals?

Michael Libbie of Insight Advertising and host of "Insight on Business."

The “price of leadership” was the on-line discussion on Webcast One’s “Insight on Business” hosted by Michael Libbie this afternoon. A question came up about “emerging leaders” and the United Way’s Emerging Leaders Initiative (ELI) was mentioned.  I will also include the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute (GDMLI) as another leadership training program that is available here in Des Moines.

Both entities strongly believe that any one who signs up will learn how to be a leader and gain valuable insight from business leaders, how companies are operated, and how to lead in a community.  A lot of people I know, including friends and colleagues have taken these classes.

The roadblock that I run into is “am I paying to learn how to be a leader” or “am I paying to ‘belong’ to a group of leaders”? If I’m going to pay on how to be a leader, I would enroll at Drake and take leadership courses.  Or better yet, I can learn about leadership, for free, with the organizations that I’m currently involved in.

The price tag to sign up for ELI or GDMLI has been the biggest roadblock in my view.  I’ve always wanted to do them, but I have to take into account of the following:

  • the most I ever earned was roughly $30,000 since college (not a lot of spending $ to bankroll such an opportunity),
  • spending nearly $2,000 per year for diabetes supplies (insulin, test strips, additional medicine),
  • and none of my past employers showed interested in financially supporting and encouraging their employees to participate in programs like this.

I feel that if young professionals want to learn about leadership and are financial unable to sign up for ELI, GDMLI, or any other venture, they should join non-profit organizations that are in need of volunteers and board members.  I’ve served and volunteered for two groups for over 4+ years, and starting my 2nd year serving on my college alumni board.  I’ve learned “on-the-job” about leading a group of volunteers, planning on strategy and events, and having a voice on a leadership board when decisions have to made.

You can sign up for a class, or sign up for a crash course on leadership by volunteering to an organization.

In effect, you get a free education and real-life lessons in leadership with groups like the MS Society of Iowa, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Iowa, and the American Diabetes Association (my organization).  Those who are financially able and/or have an employer who wants them to succeed will benefit from ELI, GDMLI, Rotary Clubs, and others.

I feel that you get can get the same benefit by giving your time to groups that are sorely in need of volunteers and board members who want to learn about what it takes to be a leader in the community.

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2 thoughts on “The Price of Leadership

  1. Hi Michael, thank you for adding your thoughts to my viewpoints! I have been listening to your show a good while now and I have heard you talk about the Jaycees. It is interesting to me on how the core civic groups like the Jaycees, the Rotary, and the Lions to name a few, is struggling to build numbers and attendance through my generation today.

    There is a large proliferation of groups that not only address a certain passion, but also cater to those said passions for individuals. It’s a good thing for these groups, but a sticking point for the older groups. It is a branding issue, as you correctly pointed out and Todd’s comment on Monday verified it when he said that today’s Rotary “is not your father’s Rotary” anymore.

    Organizations can keep the basic principles of their mission. With that said, they have to evolve and tweak their focus to bring in new prospective members and brand their identification to today’s world.

  2. Mr. R – Good stuff and someting to think about. If you listened to the show I spoke several times about how the one of the original young people’s leadership organizations worked from personal development through community development. The Jaycees have fallen on some hard times, however their core study and work units are among the best in the world of leadership development. But, it’s no longer “cool” to belong…and there is a branding issue with the Junior Chamber…and that is too bad. The ELI group looks a bit exclusive for my tastes…I need to learn more but you are right..if I’m going to pay that kind of cash…I’d head back to school. Good post…

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