Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Emergent Sage Leadership: Interview of Cristine Kelly

Emergent Sage Leadership: Interview of Cristine Kelly

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4. Is there a history of community service in your family background? If so, briefly describe it.

There wasn’t a tradition of community service in my family. My grandparents were all immigrants. My maternal grandmother emigrated from Russia and spoke four Eastern European languages. She volunteered as a translator for people just coming over, but that was the only community service I am aware of in my family.

5.   What do you consider to be the major strengths and capabilities that have made you an effective civic community leader? Are they rooted in action, in  your personal style, in your organizational, political, and personal relationships, or in something else?

I think the heart of my leadership is compassion. I’ve seen so much in my family, sad things happening to people I loved. I am fascinated by the failings and possibilities of human beings, and I have an underlying strong belief in the goodness of humanity. I always try to look at something with a multi-faceted view, to understand the multiple perspectives, in any situation. When I was younger I was more strident, with strong political views. Now I’m more accepting of others. Everyone has a story, and I try to keep that in mind. I respect where people are coming from and try to learn something from every situation I encounter.

I also have a strong will. That got me through many difficult situations and was responsible for a lot of success, and particularly when I was younger I relied on it. Now, however, I know that will alone will not get me through everything, and that some of that will in my past was based on fear. I’ve learned to let go of some fear and to embrace my own self and shortcomings. That’s allowed me to be more open. I believe we all need to work together, and I need to be an example of that. I try to combine my passion with diplomacy, and really listen.  I think there is an inherent human need to be heard.

Early on, I had an ability to observe what was needed in a situation and become that. Also, it helps if people in leadership positions are intelligent, well-spoken, and comfortable in social situations. When people ask me how I’ve gotten where I am, I joke that I’m really just a pretty girl with a large vocabulary! Overall, I think my strengths are rooted in personal experience. I have a deep belief in the good side of human nature, though I’ve also seen the destructive side. It’s my duty and obligation, if I have the strength and capacity, to make a positive difference. I am the only survivor in my family. There must be a reason why I am here, and I believe it’s to help others, whether to facilitate that in an organization, or personally with my actions.

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