LEADERSHIP has certainly been in the spotlight over the past few months. From the local handling of COVID-19 to the dramatic and controversial US elections, the desire for good, competent and honest leadership is something which we all desire.
In fact, leadership on so many levels was put to the test throughout the pandemic. With so many communities, organisations and individuals being severely impacted on from the beginning of the epidemic all the way through the various stages, it has called on leaders to rise up and lead.
Whether it’s been providing support, guidance, comfort, motivation or optimism, leadership has been essential and very much sought out during these times. And we’ve definitely seen the best and unfortunately the worst of leadership behaviours as well.
In our Parsha this week and next, Vayeshev, and Miketz, we get a great view of leadership too. Joseph demonstrates various aspects of effective leadership and also at times the vulnerability of leadership. He shows us the requisite empathy and care needed for leadership when he expresses concern for his fellow prisoners and offers them his kindness. This despite being tormented and cast out by those closest to him. And Jewish leadership has always had great role models and to be fair, at times, examples of how not to lead.
Fortunately though, with the continued need for strong leadership in our local Jewish community, I am so grateful to have been witness to the most incredible three-month leadership training course hosted recently by LaunchPad.
Leaders from across the Australian Jewish community, covering a very wide range of organisations and positions, were privileged to participate in this inaugural program. Adapting to the COVID-19 conditions, I was curious as to how a three-month leadership course would unfold over Zoom.
I have to say what transpired from day one of the weekly sessions, was nothing short of sensational. I’ve been fortunate to have previously attended the three-day LaunchPad retreat, and the professionalism of the retreats was equally matched at this program.
However, it was not only the course itself which inspired me, even though the sessions were fantastic. It was the calibre, quality and passion of the leaders who participated that truly stood out. Yes, the course was carefully crafted and planned each week. Focusing on a number of skill enhancement sessions with a range of experts, grappling with our own leadership flaws, self-care strategies and ongoing discussions among the participants, the course did not disappoint.
Yet, as mentioned above, to learn and hear from the other leaders, gave me the confidence and optimism on the bright future of our Jewish community. The willingness and desire of the group to listen to each other, to learn from each other and share ideas with one another was truly remarkable. Even if we disagreed on certain subjects, the respect for another’s view was humbling to see.
Sure, there are many issues our communities face. There always will be. But if we have the right leaders, who are willing to listen to and work with their respective constituents, to serve their communities, leaders who genuinely care for those that they lead, then we will be in a good position to overcome any of these issues. This group, with whom I got to spend my weekly Tuesday mornings over the three months, I believe has the right attitude, courage and desire to lead us into the future.
The truth is, the greatest aspect of this group of leaders was a quality of leadership that was highlighted by the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Rabbi Sacks said, there are many great leaders who inspire many followers. Then there are the greatest leaders who do not only create followers, but they create leaders. This is the future of leadership that we need to carry us into the future. Inspiring our children and youth to get involved, to share their views, to take responsibility and to become our next leaders.
I am honoured to have been a part of a group of leaders that I believe will do just that!
Rabbi Daniel Rabin is rabbi of South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation.