From Margaret Wheatley, Turning to One Another, 2009
In working with many people in very different cultures, I’ve learned to define leadership differently than most. A leader is anyone willing to help, anyone who sees something that needs to change and takes the first steps to influence that situation. It might be a parent who intervenes in her child’s school; or a rural village that works to get clean water; or a worker who refuses to allow mistreatment of others in his workplace; or a citizen who rallies her neighbours to stop local polluters. Everywhere in the world, no matter the economic or social circumstances, people step forward to try and make a small difference.
Because a leader is anyone willing to help, we can celebrate the fact that the world is abundantly rich in leaders. Some people ask, “Where have all the leaders gone?” But if we worry that there’s a shortage of leaders, we’re just looking in the wrong place, usually at the top of some hierarchy. Instead, we need to look around us, to look locally. And we need to look at ourselves. When have we moved into action for an issue or concern that we cared about? When have we stepped forward to help and thereby become a leader?
The process that creates change in the world is quite straightforward. We notice something that needs to be changed. We keep noticing it. The problem keeps getting our attention, even though most people don’t notice that there’s even a problem. We start to act, we try something. If that doesn’t work, we try a different approach. We learn as we go…