What Makes A Diaspora Leader Effective
by Leo Gilling
SOUTH FLORIDA – Being effective as a Diaspora leader is not an overnight chore, nor is it a ready-made acceptance. As in anything else, a job, expertise, and advanced education, becoming a Diaspora leader requires learning, practice, building relationships, patience, and experience.
Many of us jump into action and in front to capture the opportunity to quickly become famous, with the fantasy of knocking heads with high-profile leaders, making money, and getting their names and photographs in the newspaper. Yes, you will become popular. Yes, you will gain visibility. But are you a leader? Do you care about people? Do you care about the issues? Do you care about building a mechanism from which Diaspora members can benefit? Are you willing to learn from others how to be a Diaspora leader? Are you patient?
There is a difference between a leader and a noisemaker. A noisemaker jumps into action without first understanding the history and legacy and finds themselves in anything and everything wanting to be relevant and visible, disguising their leadership deficiency. They convince themselves that everyone buys in. As it turns out, the disguise causes burnout, and such a person quickly disappears from active Diaspora work because notoriety didn’t come fast enough.
Who, then, is a Diaspora leader?
First, let’s filter out the noisemakers, then allow the populace to decide. You will find that the essence of the Diaspora leader’s work does not quickly lead back to them. Instead, their genuine internal quality is to deliver needed services and resources to their beneficiaries, whether in their community or Jamaica.
The Diaspora leader is someone the people identify with as their leader; not someone who lets the words roll easily from their tongues that they put people first, but one who truly believes in their work and genuinely puts people first. These leaders spend time building, helping, nurturing, and caring no matter how rough and rocky the road gets. The minute you give up on the beneficiaries is when the public realizes where your heart is. The rule of thumb is “when the road gets tough, the tough keep going.” A diaspora leader lives that slogan.
Giving back to the country doesn’t mean giving up all you got and leaving yourself out to dry. That doesn’t qualify you to be a leader. Leadership means dedicating to the cause, executing, developing, and showing ultimate sticktoitiveness. Once you insert yourself, you display that you’re ready, willing, and available to make a difference.
Leadership is contributing and empowering people when no one is looking at or acknowledging you. It is offering up and following up, sharing expertise, selling, starting, and running a business, offering oneself as a model to others, investing in building and business in Jamaica, and continuing to lead in change-making and bettering the lives of people and others than oneself.
We can be leaders in many ways, but we should not appoint ourselves leaders; followers may not follow. We are not leaders because we have a title. We are leaders when the people say that we are when our work precedes ourselves, and our passion speaks to commitment. We are leaders only when we are recognized as such. Politicians are leaders because they can win an election. Still, Diaspora leaders are determined by how and what they do to establish care for others, creating opportunities, employment, access, and changing other people’s lives.
We must always aspire to be good but not just visible and famous; the disguise will only work for a while. The great Bob Marley echoed the pointed words, “we can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all people all the time. Leadership starts within yourself. Building ourselves first will prepare us to lead others.
I applaud all the hardworking leaders in Diaspora Movement. They are in great numbers and are not doing Diaspora work to be popular but rather to advance their skills, gain experience, and deliver their best self to the people in need. They understand that being the best at caring for others reaps benefits unbound. Kudos!
Diaspora Strategist & Engagement Advocate
Chairman – Jamaica Diaspora Taskforce Action Network (JDTAN)