I just finished reading Leadership Revolution by John Perkins and Wayne Gordon and wanted to share a couple of things that stood out to me when reading the book. These were truths that resonated in my heart, partially because they are things I need to remember in my own life, and also because they are truths I long to see demonstrated in our communities.
The first is a poem that’s toward the end of the book. It’s actually used by the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) pretty regularly so you may have heard it before, but it was a good reminder to me as to what servant leadership and leadership development look like so wanted to share it with you:
“Go to the people
Live among them
Learn from them
Listen to them
Labor with them
Start with what they know
Build on what they have
But of the best leaders
When their task is done
The people will remark
‘We have done it ourselves.'”
The second is a little longer, two paragraphs from Leadership Revolution that put to paper what’s been on my heart lately.
“Leadership development is, at its core, the process of empowerment. It entails a major commitment of time, energy and, often, financial resources. The first step in empowering leaders is to create a culture in which all people understand that they are important, that their opinions matter, and that their recommendations, whether or not they are eventually adopted, will always get a hearing (and not just a token hearing).
In an empowering culture, those of us who have titles and are over others on the organizational chart recognize that we are not the only ones who have ideas. In fact, as we often remind people, it’s usually the case that those who are closest to the problem being addressed or the goal being pursued have the best idea about how to proceed. A culture that promotes the empowerment of others differs radically from the kind of culture in which the leaders are big shots – and where it’s clear, the minute you walk in the door, who those big shots are.”
Creating that kind of culture is a daily process – making the decision to hear others’ perspectives, to welcome those who think or process things differently and truly value their opinion even if it’s not what or how I think. What are your thoughts? Have you read Leadership Revolution? Have you seen examples of the culture of empowerment or have thoughts on creating and encouraging it?