Leadership=Service, My interview with Dave Kelly

Posted on June 6th, 2012 in Perspectives on Leadership,Uncategorized by John Jensen

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with Dave “Gonzo” Kelly.  Dave is a motivational speaker who is known around the country as an expert on leadership development.  Dave is a graduate of UW-Oshkosh and has experience with Circle K, Key Club, and Student Government.  He was kind enough to allow me to get his thoughts about what it takes to be a leader.  Quite simply, in Dave’s thoughts, leadership boils down to one word; service.

“If you serve other people you are more likely to get what you were looking for.  You may even get things you never even thought you would.”  Dave explained that too often, individuals try to take on leadership roles for personal gain, but in fact, if you take leadership roles for other people you will often find that you gained more than you would have from doing things only to further yourself.  Dave explains that service is spelled “service” and not “serve-us”.  Dave’s definition of leadership is, “It’s an attitude of serving other people.”

Dave conducts leadership development programs all across the country, having been in 46 American states.  One of these programs is titled “Confidence in Leadership.”  “The key is confidence.”  Dave explains that confidence comes from taking on responsibility and accomplishing victories, even small ones.  When I asked Dave what advice he would give to a student who believed they had no leadership skills, he responded “Get engaged with community service or service to other people.”  Your service does not necessarily need to be community service, but you need to be doing something that helps out other people.  The attitude of serving others “allows you the opportunity to grow”, Kelly said, “You engage with other people, you learn more about yourself, you develop social skills, communication skills.  Doing something successfully is a victory.”  “People will see your abilities and your talents and start looking to you as a leader.”

So how do you do this?  You need to get involved in some way.  After you have found an organization or group to be involved with you must “find the service component.”  When you’re helping other people you will grow and your leadership skills will grow too.

Dave’s best piece of advice for us is to “Take chances and take on risks.”  Accepting responsibilities and accepting roles are the best ways to grow your leadership skills and help yourself show others that you are indeed a leader.  Dave often speaks of optimists, pessimists, and must-a-misseds.  A “must-a-missed” is an individual who never sees an opportunity in front of them.  Even when an opportunity arises that doesn’t seem like it is going in the direction you think you should go in might just be the opportunity you need.  One opportunity can always lead to another.

I would like to thank Dave Kelly for allowing me to interview him for this blog.  Dave may be found at gonzospeaks.com, I encourage all of you to go check out his website.

Until next time,

John Jensen

“I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another” -Thomas Jefferson

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