Leadership Newton, an initiative of the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce, is gearing up for another class, which will begin in March.

I encourage all of our citizens to consider the seven-session program and to check out the details on the Chamber’s Web site at www.thenewtonchamber.org.

If you’d rather, I welcome you to drop by the Chamber for a visit or call us at 283-2560 about this opportunity.

Since coming to Newton, I have witnessed leadership in action.

I have watched both business and government representatives, along with many other citizens, practice leadership.

And I do mean practice, for leaders certainly are engaged in a constant struggle involving trial and error.

Be assured, leading does not come easy. Leading almost always involves risk, sometimes great risk. Leaders very often fail before they succeed.

And, interestingly, rather than gaining more control, leaders usually give up a measure of control in order to serve the community’s interests.

If your goal in life is comfort and smooth sailing, you may not want to further explore the challenges of leadership and the practical and proven tools and techniques that can help you be a better leader.

On the other hand, if you want to better understand leadership and its application to our community and to your personal life, as well, consider Leadership Newton.

Leadership Newton is taught by Newton’s own Growth Associates.

Here’s what Marge Roberson has to say about her experience with the program:

“My involvement with Leadership Newton got me involved with the community aspect of leadership. I was involved in business, but had never gotten involved in community efforts. I believe it was my involvement with the Leadership class that gave me the gentle nudge I needed to go into politics, first at the city level and now at the county level.”

Community leaders come in many forms.

Some are outspoken. Some are more quiet and reserved. Most care deeply about the community’s future and lead by example.

And, certainly, not all leaders are represented by the names and faces you see in the media.

I have seen very ordinary citizens in Newton exhibit extraordinary leadership.

Just one of many examples was how individuals recently stepped up to help the victims of the fire at the Old Mill and motivated others to do the same.

The core principles of leadership, along with the particular skills that are learned through Leadership Newton, afford each participant the opportunity to grow.

“I learned one does not have to be an outgoing, Type A personality to fill the role of a servant leader,” program graduate Ken Grochowski said. “Participating in Leadership Newton provided numerous outlets to not only step outside my comfort zone, but also to develop critical thinking skills when dealing with complex and controversial issues that can divide a community.”

Like almost anything in life that involves growth and change, leadership training can be a little uncomfortable.

It makes one stretch and exercise neglected “muscles.”

However, the payback, what you can take from it, and what you can give back because of it, makes the process well worth the effort.

Jim Schwarzenberger is executive director of the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce