All hail the accidental and/or reluctant leaders

On 1 December 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man when the ‘white’ section of the bus was full. She eventually became involved with the civil rights movement of that period, even collaborating with Martin Luther King Jr, who at that stage in history was a new minister in town. She decided that she was ‘tired of giving in’.

Tarana Burke said, ‘You have to use your privilege to serve other people.’ In October 2017, Burke, who at that stage had 500 Twitter followers, picked up the news that Harvey Weinstein had been named by the New York Times as a sexual abuser. Burke worked with survivors of sexual abuse and had called her group ‘Me Too’, at best hoping that the phrase might become a bumper sticker to encourage other victims to seek help. Now suddenly her ‘Me Too’ slogan had been used over 12 million times because Alyssa Milano, American actress, activist, producer and former singer, had innocently picked up the phrase and turned it into the now-famous #MeToo phrase.

A movement was born.

Rosa Parks and Tarana Burke — and even Alyssa Milano — became accidental and possibly even reluctant leaders. All of them had simply reached the end of the road of what they felt was tolerable. Each in their own way said, ‘Enough.’

And that actually sums up good leadership.

Mother Teresa was once asked if she would join a march against war; she declined, however she said she would be happy to join a march for peace.

Leaders need to know what they stand for and be really clear about the lines they will not cross. They need to be so passionate and determined to achieve their vision or goal that no matter what, they will stand their ground without ever going against their own moral compass, because if leaders are sure-footed and clear, their followers will be sure-footed and clear.

The absolute base camp of leadership is to know exactly where you are going, and to be willing to do whatever it takes to get there. To never lose faith; to never compromise your values; to totally believe in your dream and the willingness to take people with you; and to never do anything that fouls your message.

‘Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.’

— Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ann Andrews CSP

Author Lessons in leadership: 50 ways to avoid falling into the ‘Trump’ trap

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