As this issue went to press, our country was nearing the end of its search for a leader. By the time you read this, the election may already be over… and all of us can breathe a collective sigh of relief! While the two men at the top of their tickets are impressive individuals with the best interests of their nation at heart, the road they must travel to become president has become increasingly fraught with rancor and division.
Would the founding fathers have been able to draft our Constitution against the backdrop of the 24/7 news cycle? Consider the sacrifices that were inevitably made, the egos set aside for the good of the whole, the compromises required. It’s hard to imagine how that would happen today.
But enough politics! In Greater Peoria, leadership is alive and well, as we see each and every November. And each year, as we meditate on the topic of leadership, the context is always different, making for more than a simple exercise in platitudes. In this rapidly changing world, it’s easy to get sucked into the tunnel vision of our own lives. We need these leaders — with their vision and diversity of perspectives — to help us see the bigger picture beyond our own walls.
“Leaders create irreversible change — in people, in organizations, in societies, in nations,” writes Dr. Aaron Buchko of Bradley University in this issue, perhaps the most astute characterization of a nebulous concept. This constant change doesn’t arise on its own — it is forged by visionaries who shift the paradigm. Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of a more open, connected world may have fallen flat on Wall Street, at least initially, but he has unquestionably changed the way our world communicates. (Whether for good or ill — or more likely, both — remains an open question.)
But these paradigm shifts don’t exist solely on the global stage. Just as significantly, they occur at the local level as well: with every student assisted by a schoolteacher, with each organization that works to become more effective, with every service project to help the disadvantaged, with each coin dropped into those red kettles.
Last month, after the YWCA was forced to close its doors, The Salvation Army, South Side Office of Concern and Dream Center Peoria rose to the occasion, assuming its vital shelter and housing programs to ensure they would continue to serve the hardest hit among us — despite the lack of assured funding. That is true leadership, and that spirit is what 40 Leaders Under Forty is all about. iBi