[March 31, 2014] I like to do my part in helping those in need. My work as a volunteer is rewarding through activities filled with wonderful, caring people – not unlike many who do the same. Yet, this leader trait can be both a help and a hindrance by artificially protecting those who repeatedly fail and grow to be dependent on others.
Leadership means giving back to your community and providing assistance to those who require help to survive. Giving back and assistance, however, should not harm the community. Yet, this is happening every day. Leaders should be aware and strive to prevent harm by helping.
I have found that we continue to help the same people, making them less capable and less desirous of providing for themselves – they become dependent, privileged, and less likely to succeed in the future. While there will be exceptions for those who are mentally or physically incapable of providing for themselves or for those needing short-term help; the vast majority are capable and do not truly need help.
What are leaders to do when this occurs? How do we make it known that our direct help to a small group of repeatedly needy people, actually harms them?
One school of thought that says “society” should take care of anyone shows a need by simply asking for it. My volunteer work with the hungry tends to drift to this philosophy, especially if hungry children are involved. However, despite seeing the same people year to year coming in for a hand out and I would rather err on the side of caution and not turn someone away.
Another way of thinking says that assistance should be provided only if absolutely necessary. They argue that individual dependence and even generational dependence is created from government run, long-term assistance programs.
There is no simple answer. This is why I work in a private community-based program. We are more likely to find the hardcore dependent people and work directly to help them off their dependency. When federal government programs get involved, their effort does good things, but also it does harm since there is no requirement to identify those who have become dangerously dependent.
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