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CITY CENTER: Stepping forward, making progress in Biddeford

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Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 7:05 pm

I believe we are all born leaders.

I saw this adage in action recently at the beach when my 5-year-old daughter said, “Come on! Let’s climb those rocks!” It was her hopeful tone that motivated us to do something that we, as parents in our 40s, probably would rather have avoided. And, as she climbed and exclaimed how great “bouldering” was, our only jobs were to catch her if she stumbled (which she didn’t) and smile at the beautiful blue sky above us.

Rather than feeling we need to teach our daughter how to be a leader, our task seems to be to keep from interfering with her natural initiative, hopefulness and ability to motivate. This seems like a great lesson for supporting leaders in general.

Yes, there are times for course correction for any leader. If our rock-climbing daughter had suggested we all climb with our eyes closed, we would likely have set a limit. But how we set that limit is the key factor in supporting leadership. We could say in an insulting tone, “That’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard,” or we could become inquisitive: “What sounds fun about that?” If her logic was in error, we could question it without demeaning her as a person. If she fell, we could say, “See, we knew this was a bad idea,” or we could support her self-correction, “Hmmmm, what do you think went wrong here?”

As a staff member for the Heart of Biddeford, I feel fortunate to be joined by a cadre of volunteer leaders on committees and our board.

While highly effective board members Tammy Ackerman, Megan Rochelo and Dan DuCharme have recently stepped down to focus on other leadership roles, newcomers Emma Bouthillette, John Harkins, Greg Paulhus and Jennifer Thibeau have now signed on to help steer the organization.

When there is a positive atmosphere in the downtown and within organizations, where leadership is supported and correction happens without attacks and blame, more leaders appear and offer their time and wisdom. Every time any one of us helps things go well, we are leading, whether it’s as intensive as serving on a board or in office, or as small as showing up at an event or buying local. 

It all makes a difference, and with more people stepping forward to help out, more progress in the downtown is inevitable.

Delilah Poupore is the director of the Heart of Biddeford. Her column appears monthly.

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