Who would you nom­i­nate as Leader of the Year in 2010? Why?

This week’s On Lead­er­ship show­cases more an­swers to last week’s ques­tion. To cast your vote for 2010’s best leader, go to wash­ing­ton­post.com/lead­er­ship.

The Washington Post Sunday - - G2 -

On Dec. 16, Daniel Ells­berg, the whistle­blower of the Viet­namWar era who re­leased the Pen­tagon Pa­pers, was ar­rested along with 131 peo­ple in front of the White House. A ma­jor­ity were Vet­er­ans for Peace who were protest­ing U.S. in­volve­ment in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 2010, the United States spent $65.4 bil­lion on the Iraq war. Afghanistan, which is the long­est war in U.S. his­tory, is cost­ing a big­ger chunk, at $72.9 bil­lion.

Vet­er­ans for Peace and Daniel Ells­berg should be this year’s per­son of the year be­cause of their courage and brav­ery to stand up for all of us who be­lieve that “war is not the an­swer.” More­over, in a time of eco­nomic re­ces­sion, the war ma­chine is bankrupt­ing our coun­try.

If we be­lieve that war is not the an­swer in 2011, let’s join those who are stand­ing up for peace. Af­ter all, Ells­berg has been stead­fast for al­most half a cen­tury. The leader I be­lieve has achieved the most against strong re­sis­tance: Pres­i­dent Obama. He, more than any­one, has guided, pushed and of­ten per­suaded skep­ti­cal and in­de­pen­dent leg­is­la­tors to craft laws that move Amer­ica for­ward. The press gen­er­ally writes or talks about Obama’s lead­er­ship in terms of win­ning and los­ing, po­lit­i­cal vic­to­ries or de­feats. His­to­ri­ans will doubt­less re­port these scores, but they will eval­u­ate Obama in terms of how well he served the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

I nom­i­nate all the lead­ers — ex­ec­u­tives, man­agers, su­per­vi­sors, team lead­ers — who fly un­der the

radar. You know the ones I mean. Their staffs, team mem­bers and em­ploy­ees rave about them: “I’ve never worked harder; I’ve never been hap­pier,” “ I think she has us hyp­no­tized,” “He makes us feel like a cru­cial part of the suc­cess of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.” (All ac­tual com­ments from peo­ple I’ve in­ter­viewed.)

And the rea­son that these lead­ers are un­known and un­rec­og­nized (ex­cept by the for­tu­nate peo­ple who work with them) is that they don’t seek the spot­light, they don’t give in­ter­views and they don’t take credit. All they do is em­body the essence of lead­er­ship. They in­spire, sup­port, re­spect and gen­uinely like the peo­ple they lead.

This year, we should change our very def­i­ni­tion of lead­er­ship to one bet­ter suited to our new world: “dis­trib­uted lead­er­ship” — mul­ti­ple lead­ers work­ing to­gether across bound­aries to mobilize oth­ers to cre­ate and reach their goals. These lead­ers can be for­mal or in­for­mal, high up or low down, per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary.

Take 2010: the year the earth de­clared war. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple died due to earth­quakes, floods, vol­ca­noes, heat waves, bliz­zards, typhoons and droughts. This was the costli­est war on the planet.

In Haiti and Pak­istan, whole cities were de­stroyed, and aid from the out­side world could not get in very quickly. In such cir­cum­stances, there was lit­tle that one leader could do. How­ever, many lead­ers stepped in. These were the peo­ple on the ground, many of whom had to deal with their own per­sonal trau­mas, who made things hap­pen. There were those who helped peo­ple trapped un­der rub­ble. Those who helped or­ga­nize oth­ers to find wa­ter, set up shel­ters and care for new or­phans. Those who set up sup­ply lines and worked to get the sick to makeshift “ hos­pi­tals” that peo­ple were build­ing with what­ever ma­te­ri­als they could find. And later, peo­ple came to think about what new cities might look like and how life could go on.

What makes these peo­ple lead­ers? They pro­vide vi­sions for what the world might look like af­ter the cri­sis is over. They of­fer hope. They sense what is needed now. We do not know their names, but to­gether these lead­ers are the ones who have done the most. Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke bas­ket­ball coach. It is not the records he has amassed but the val­ues he has pro­moted. He knows his roots, and he has strong val­ues. He has brought great dis­tinc­tion to Duke Uni­ver­sity. And in 30 years of coach­ing there, he has di­rected a pro­gram never ques­tioned for re­cruit­ing in­frac­tions or bring­ing in play­ers who only want a venue and not an ed­u­ca­tion.

I’d nom­i­nate Bill Clin­ton. He took on Haiti when he didn’t need to and has been called in to help Pres­i­dent Obama sell his eco­nomic agenda. He has shown a will­ing­ness to take on the tough is­sues de­spite their un­pop­u­lar­ity.




Carol Kin­sey Go­man is an ex­ec­u­tive coach, author and key­note speaker.

Michael Mac­coby is an an­thro­pol­o­gist and psy­cho­an­a­lyst.

Peter Hart is chair­man of Hart Re­search, a com­pany that con­ducts pub­lic opin­ion polling for NBC/Wall Street Jour­nal.

Robert J. Good­win is co-founder of Ex­ec­u­tives With­out Bor­ders.

Juana Bor­das is pres­i­dent of Mes­tiza Lead­er­ship In­ter­na­tional.

Deb­o­rah An­cona is a pro­fes­sor at the MIT Sloan School of Man­age­ment.

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