The Importance of Advocacy and Leadership
The importance of advocacy and leadership cannot be overstated. Speaking on behalf of others for a worthy cause is vital to bring about positive change. Words frame worlds and as John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
What is advocacy?
An advocate is anyone who argues for, recommends, or gives support to a cause or policy. Advocacy is any action that promotes the interests or cause of someone or a specific group of people and gives them a voice.
Different types of advocacy
- Self-advocacy is about speaking up for yourself. To do this it’s important to understand your strengths and needs, identify your personal goals, know your legal rights, responsibilities, and be able to communicate these effectively to others.
- Individual advocacy happens when a person or group of people concentrate their efforts on just one or two individuals to help them overcome whatever difficulty or hardship they face.
- Systems advocacy is generally used to change government policies, contracts, rules, or laws.
What’s needed for advocacy and leadership to be effective?
According to Dr. Barbara Blackburn, in her book Rigor is NOT a Four-Letter Word, these personal characteristics help make someone a more effective advocate:
- Always listens and learns
- Deliberate focus on long-term goals
- Values support from others
- Openness to different ways to share your message
- Commitment to partner with different and like-minded individuals
- Ability to look at and respond to positions and an issue
- Tenacity to bounce back from negative responses
- Engages the public and stakeholders
Jim Rohn also says, “a good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” If the above traits are present, then the advocacy goals of leaders are more likely to be reached.
World Literacy Foundation
Every year, the World Literacy Foundation (WLF) runs a leadership and advocacy program to empower individuals around the world to become a local voice, advocate, and fundraise for literacy.
In 2020, the WLF Ambassador Program brought together over 2,500 like-minded individuals who have been working to raise funds for Aprende Leyendo – a literacy program in Colombia that aims to reach disadvantaged children with limited access to education. Programs like this show that using your voice is vitally important to bring about change.