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Year in Review: How YLS shaped my perspective on driving change

After a year of serving as the Young Leaders Society Advisory Board President, Ruben Ahedo reflects on leading an affinity group comprised of emerging leaders who are ready to make a difference in the community. Thanks to his leadership, YLS has grown its membership significantly and was able to host, along with partners, the region's first young professionals summit -- ENGAGE -- which was sold out weeks before the event. Today, he shares his approach to leadership.

Having the privilege of leading the United Way of El Paso Young Leaders Society (YLS) has been a truly rewarding experience. YLS is an organization that consists of amazing people; people who are either emerging leaders or leaders within their organizations and respective communities. These are high-caliber, high-potential individuals who share a common interest—the interest of improving the overall quality of life for residents in the El Paso region.

One of the lessons that solidified for me throughout my tenure is that leadership is not just about leading others, you have to first be able to lead yourself. One of my favorite leadership quotes is by John Buchan, “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.” However, in order for us to elicit that greatness from people, we must first elicit that greatness from ourselves.

To me, it is starting with the end in mind and working toward a goal. Whether that is increasing the number of members or raising the standards for our own events. It is important to have a vision about how the end looks like. And this is a recurring process every time you reach a goal, your vision has to be “renewed.”

YLS has strengthened my belief that leadership is about exerting influence in a way that encourages others to follow a desired outcome. Leading a group of volunteers is very different than leading a group of people within your own organization. To collectively and effectively pursue a desired outcome, it’s about strategy, relationships and most importantly, a shared vision.

In retrospect, leading YLS has been a humbling experience knowing that the impact this group has had, is having, and will have in our communities will forever remain. Being part of something greater than the sum of its parts has been quite an extraordinary experience. I look forward to continuing my work with United Way of El Paso—an amazing and impactful organization that our region is grateful to have.

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