Finding the Leader Within “Most leaders are not famous. The lead from where they are, often without recognition or fanfare.” – Tommie L. Robinson, Jr. The theme of the ASHA convention this year was “Leadership Into New Frontiers.” We chose this theme because I believe that leadership qualities are in all of us, ... From the President
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From the President  |   December 01, 2010
Finding the Leader Within
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Hearing Disorders / Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / From the President
From the President   |   December 01, 2010
Finding the Leader Within
The ASHA Leader, December 2010, Vol. 15, 19. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.15152010.19
The ASHA Leader, December 2010, Vol. 15, 19. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.15152010.19
“Most leaders are not famous. The lead from where they are, often without recognition or fanfare.” – Tommie L. Robinson, Jr.
The theme of the ASHA convention this year was “Leadership Into New Frontiers.”
We chose this theme because I believe that leadership qualities are in all of us, and that leadership is not about gender, position, race, or ethnic background. But we must locate that potential and cultivate it. So how do we begin? One good place to start is with skills and attributes. Try taking an inventory, and perhaps bring in a good friend or family member who can give you honest feedback.
What are your gifts? You may be compassionate, courageous, athletic, creative, or diplomatic. You may be a talented manager, or the kind of person who naturally inspires others. Perhaps you have attained high achievement in your professional life.
Some leaders are famous, but most are not. At the ASHA convention, we recognize our colleagues at the annual Awards Ceremony for their professional achievements, but chances are you don’t know many of them. They were recognized for their contributions to the discipline, their service and inspiration to others, and their dedication to making a difference to individuals with communication disorders.
Most leaders do their good work from where they are, without recognition or fanfare. These leaders may work beside you, live on your street, or share your home. The leaders in your life may include your spouse, a close friend, or your son or daughter. There are so many possibilities—a local firefighter, your child’s teacher, a Little League coach, a neighbor who volunteers at a local shelter, a spiritual leader, your mother or father. So try another mental inventory. Who in your past and present has been a positive model for leadership for you? How many mentors have shown you the power of positive influence? When you look back, you might be surprised at how many people in your family, community, or school helped you along the way.
There was a second element in the convention theme besides leadership—the idea of new frontiers. What is this new frontier? The term can mean a place or a border, but it also can be the leading edge of knowledge, and that’s what I’m interested in—the frontiers of knowledge in communication sciences and disorders.
We’ve already come a long way in speech-language pathology and audiology. Fifty years ago, hearing aids were nearly as large as a shoebox, and 30 years ago speech-language pathologists defined language in terms of syntax. As recently as the 1990s many of us believed that it was not possible to define clearly and publish evidence-based treatments.
Given those advances, what’s in store for us in the next 10 to 20 years? It’s hard to predict, but ASHA is involved in work that moves us toward those new frontiers—through advocacy, research, evidence-based practice, public outreach, and expanded outreach to students and support personnel.
Entering new frontiers also means anticipating change. This year ASHA strengthened its relationship with NSSLHA and decided to create an associates program for support personnel. We also are working hard to increase the value and impact of our special interest divisions. We hope that all these efforts take the professions into expanding new frontiers of communication sciences and disorders.
We must be leaders to envision and realize these new frontiers. What is your role? Perhaps a young boy comes to you with a serious stutter and you give him the tools to be a better communicator; years later he tells you, “I am who I am today because of you.” Or a teen comes to you with a major hearing loss and you help her rediscover her hearing. She’s the one who brings you cookies and leaves a note with the words, “You changed my life.” Or a student comes to you with language learning problems and you discover she has been misdiagnosed. Her parents weep with gratitude because someone has finally figured it out. You are being a leader.
So how do you find the leadership potential within yourself? And what is your journey of discovery?
One quote that helped me came from Eleanor Roosevelt. She said of her husband, Franklin, who suffered with polio, that he “learned the greatest of all lessons…infinite patience and persistence.”
With patience and persistence, you too can find the gift of leadership within you and give it freely to your colleagues, patients, clients, students, and all those you serve.
Today, take the vow—share your inspiration with others, and be a leader in your life.
This column, Robinson’s final column of the year, is based upon his keynote address at the 2010 ASHA Convention.
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December 2010
Volume 15, Issue 15