Greater Louisville Inc. The Metro Chamber of Commerce
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Media Center

January 10, 2024 9:42am

Investor Perspective: To Be A Better Business Leader, Become A Community Leader

Self-improvement is at the forefront of so many leaders’ thoughts as we move into this new year. Our plan often comes with a tidy list of books, institutes or workshops to expand our skills and influence. There’s no denying that these are beneficial routes for leadership development, but nothing tops experiential learning if you really want to change behaviors. At the Leadership Louisville Center, we provide meaningful experiences for those in business to become influential and impactful community leaders.

If your resolution is to be a better leader or to better drive business results — we invite you to further engage in community leadership – it is a tried-and-true path towards building confidence, connection, courage, and business success.

What does it mean to be a community leader?

Community leadership is a deeper level of volunteerism that involves taking on leadership roles on nonprofit boards and serving on civic commissions. It starts with building understanding of the community, its challenges and assets, and meeting decision-makers. Our programs have offered this access to thousands of leaders for 45 years and continue to connect people to community leadership opportunities.

Nonprofit boards tend to be a diverse microcosm of people working together to solve complex problems and challenges at the community level. You can see why solving problems that are nuanced and large in scope might be the kind of experiential learning that builds professional skills and confidence. Aside from the boost to your resume, this work is an ideal learning lab that pushes and stretches us in ways that typical professional environments cannot.

Working within these diverse rooms, it’s easy to understand how community involvement can increase the depth and diversity of our connections. Despite our best intentions, we are often socially segregated — our circle of professional colleagues, friends, and neighbors tend to be just like us. Community leadership is an opportunity to create deep and meaningful relationships across industry and professions.

Courage is making a choice to take action. Courage does not always show up as extreme acts of heroism. Sometimes we need to build the courage to simply make a bold request. Community engagement requires you to push yourself to make ‘big asks’ on behalf of the initiatives you support. It is more meaningful to develop your courage muscle when your ask is trying to feed hungry children or right injustices.

Through community leadership, businesses gain better trained people because they are practicing leadership not just reading about it. It also contributes to the ethos of your company as an organization that cares about your social impact.

Where to begin?

If you are motivated to dive into community leadership in 2024 but need a trail guide to help you align with the right role, you are in luck.

The Leadership Louisville Center offers several experiential community leadership programs that range from 2 ½ days to 12 months. Leadership Louisville, Focus Louisville, Ignite Louisville, Bingham Fellows and Encore Louisville are programs that have graduated over 15,000 leaders since 1979.

We invite you to get started with Focus Louisville – in just 2 ½ days you’ll immerse yourself in our city alongside 50 other professionals, getting introduced to the Center and ways you can make greater impact.

If you’re an established leader ready to generate meaningful social impact and contribute to the region’s growth and success, consider applying for the Leadership Louisville program. Approximately 60 leaders are selected through a competitive application process each year to represent the diversity of the Louisville region. Applications for the Class of 2025 that runs from July 2024 – May 2025 will open in February.

Want to discuss what program is right for you? Contact our Engagement Manager, Sara Bowman at [email protected].


Cynthia Knapek is the president and CEO of the Leadership Louisville Center.