The last month has been reminiscent of a time 40 years ago, in the late 60s when all hell broke loose. Powerlessness and acceptance of injustice were cast aside, as people took to the streets in the U.S. and around the world. In 2010 we saw a foreshadowing of this renewed restlessness when the Tea Party rose up out of, what seemed like, nothing and nowhere. In 2011, it’s been Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain — Wisconsin — Libya, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan. Everyone’s getting in the act: This past Friday the majority of the Detroit Pistons’ basketball players (who, unlike the revolutionaries, dispute that they were acting in concert) skipped or came late to a mandatory practice. Coach Kuester came down hard, benching the whole lot of them. These are uneasy days for presidents, monarchs, dictators, and coaches. What about for everyday leaders? Anything for us to learn?
Hopefully, we’re inspired! In the Middle East these individuals have risen up at great risk. Ghadaffi has allegedly murdered thousands so far. Now, those protesters were showing some major “everyday leadership.” Can’t say I’ve ever taken a risk a hundredth so high.
Second, we should be encouraged by these acts of grassroots leaders. Much has been written about the role of Facebook and cell phones, and that is surely true. But they were people organizing for change – against monstrous forces of resistance. Somewhere, we can be sure, there were small cadres of Margaret Mead’s famously called a “small group of committed, citizens [who] can change the world.” Successful everyday leaders – unlike the tyrants they are toppling – always collaborate with others.
Finally, those of us “in power” – as parents, bosses, owners, managers, priests, teachers, principals, etc., – should pay attention. These revolutions did not spring from nothing. There were long-standing grievances. And there were costs being paid long before the revolutions came. People cheat their cheating governments. Organized labor fights the government (or corporation) that should have been their partners. Basketball players were far from giving their best in their mediocre season with a coach they’d lost respect for. So, they all finally exploded out of their higher-ups failures to create genuine communication. I don’t know the personal inside of any of these situations, but I can’t help but think that the standoff and mutiny facing Wisconsin Governor Walker, like that faced by Pistons’ Coach Kuester, has an awful lot to do with not being willing to the do the hard work of seeing others’ perspectives; the hard work of seeking win-win ends; and the hard work of reaching a compelling enough shared vision that their followers would genuinely be willing to seek win-win as well.
It’s easy to see ourselves on the side of the little guy, taking to the streets. But most of us in one way or another are also “the big guy,” and we’d best listen hard and long to those who labor under our regimes. You might ask your peeps this week, “Hey, what am I not seeing as parent/boss/etc., that you think I should know about to help support you in your work?” Listening, to . . .
Lead with your best self,
p.s. Thanks to SO MANY of you who helped out my buddy Mick. I mailed him a check for $625 today from sales of Be Real which he edited perfectly. He’s on Day +5 and waiting hopefully for his brother’s cells to now start multiplying and fortifying him. Your continued prayers are appreciated.