I recently had the opportunity to go through the LEAD IMPACT program offered by LEAD San Diego. It was a phenomenal opportunity to learn about the major issues affecting our region, and to meet and network with top business, civic, government, military and nonprofit organization leaders. Through those meetings, our “class” of about 50 people got a lot of numbers thrown our way, including:
- There are 9,900 501(c)3’s registered in San Diego County.
- Twelve percent of San Diego jobs are military jobs.
- Fifteen percent of San Diego’s population is on Medi-Cal.
- Thirty percent of San Diego students are learning English as a second language.
That type of information is not just eye-opening to me, it’s empowering. It, along with the stories that were told throughout the program, made me realize there is still more work to be done to make San Diego a great place to live, work and play for everyone. That said, the things we were able to see and hear firsthand also highlighted that even though San Diego is a very diverse place, leaders are still finding a way to work together to make the region better.
Collaboration is Critical
Throughout the LEAD IMPACT program, we got to hear about the cooperation happening every day across our region, and it was inspiring. We heard from PATH San Diego, which works with dozens of organizations and agencies to provide housing, and mental health and wellness services for the homeless. We heard from the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, which includes 27 different organizations that work together to promote art, culture and science. And we heard from law enforcement officials, who continually work together with other agencies and departments to help keep us safe.
Our “class” members collaborated with one another through our Leadership Action Team projects, where we worked with nonprofit organizations to develop plans that help them strategically reach their goals. In other words, we got to take what we learned and put it into action. That time we spent as a team working toward a common goal was the most impactful part of the program for me. I listened, learned and lead with individuals representing some of San Diego’s largest and most impactful organizations. I got to take great ideas and put them on paper so they could be actionable for our nonprofit organization. And I developed close friendships with the nine other individuals on my team, who all had very different skills and backgrounds.
Learning to Lead
While there’s no simple formula for leadership, and no two situations are exactly alike, good leadership starts with good vision. It takes a willingness to listen, collaborate and take chances. It takes both passion and action. LEAD IMPACT showed me the firsthand proof that good leadership exists in our region. America’s Finest City is big, but operates like a small town thanks to a close-knit group of visionaries, and a culture that encourages collaboration. The more that continues to happen – and if more people decide to take an active leadership role – the better off we’ll be for years to come. I encourage you to look for opportunities to get involved with groups like LEAD San Diego to see where you may be able to make a positive difference.