The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.
I am excited to be selected for the 26th Scottsdale Leadership class. So, when filling out the initial paper work for the class I felt compelled to volunteer for something when the first opportunity arose. Of the several options provided I chose contributing to the blog since I felt like it would deepen my engagement and help to create indelible memories like the journals I wrote during my travels before I settled down. Our first assignment – or is it a culling of the weak?- provide a short blog answering the question “Why Leadership is important in our Community”
Nothing conjures up writers block like an ambiguous question on your first test of a class you really want to ace. So like any difficult problem I broke it down and looked outward for inspiration. It was surprising how inspiring Wikipedia was in this case as the story of Scottsdale is peppered with leadership. Breaking it down, my first question; what is leadership in our community? My second question; what has it done for us already? My third question I’ll save for you later.
Defining leadership is a bit more of an exercise than a blog entry as many books and careers have been made on the subject. I’m not that ambitious here but let’s admit that leadership takes many forms. It could be a formal leadership role like the mayor, it could be driving innovation, it could be having the courage to act, or it could be helping your neighbor. Here are some examples of leadership in Scottsdale’s past and the results.
- The Hohokam had the vision and ambition to build an extensive network of irrigation canals over a thousand years ago. They built their community and society around the canals, and in turn, Scottsdale and many other Valley of the Sun communities were founded.
- Winfield and George Washington Scott were two brothers who came to the area, bought up 640 acres, and started farming. They were known to have encouraged others to create a desert farming community in the region. The town they lived in changed its name from Orangedale to Scottsdale in 1894.
- In 1912 the Ingleside Inn at Indian School Road and 64th Street was the region’s first resort. That was 40 years before air conditioning was widely available and four years after the first Model T was produced. Today, Scottsdale is known as a resort destination and tourism brings in millions of visitors and billions of dollars to our community.
- Indian Bend Wash experienced flooding problems in the 1960’s. The Federal Government was motivated to solve the problem for both the well being of the residents and the financial impact to the government from the insurance laws at the time. The Army Corp of Engineers wanted to create concrete canals but some residents wanted to try the then emerging approach of greenways. The community voted and in a controversial move decided to install the Scottsdale Greenbelt.
While these examples are large scale (or Wikipedia-worthy events) they do illustrate what leadership has done for our community in the past. Leadership comes from many people and groups at different scales and in many forms. We’ve seen some examples of what it is and has done for our community.
My last question I’ll pose to you: “What are some examples of what leadership could do for our community now?” Please respond and let me know your ideas or share an example of current leadership that has inspired you.