I’m finding myself inspired by unexpected leaders: people I think I know, people I don’t know but am surprised by.
We crave leadership when tragedy hits. A young colleague of mine was killed on Saturday in a late-night car wreck. She was 23 years old, a single mom who left 3-year old son. Very few people know what to do when a tragedy likes this hits the workplace. An all-hands meeting was held, tears were shed, flowers brought, work efforts encouraged. It was another colleague, a man who’d raised a son, who said, “All I can think about is my son,” and volunteered to set up a scholarship fund for the boy, an action that could change that child’s life.
Then, driving home, I heard a familiar twang on the radio newscast. It was former President George W. Bush taking full aim at, if not the sitting president directly, his actions on:
- The free press (think about that one, coming from a man who was tarred, feathered and ridden out of town on a rail by the aforementioned press)
- Pre-election communications with Russia. Will Bush, like his predecessor Nobel Prize winner Jimmy Carter, it his leadership stride after his presidency ends?
Did Laura put him up to it? We’ll never know. But we listen to people who have survived and learned from failure and blame.
Credentials don’t make a leader. I was reminded me of a conversation I’d had in late December with a friend who knew U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack.
In 2016, Jack ruled that the Texas foster care system violates children’s rights. Essentially, she sued the State of Texas for its appalling, ongoing neglect of the children consigned to its care. She sued the state. My friend, who knew Judge Jack early in her career, commented on her lack of high-powered credentials. “Can you imagine,” he said, “She took them all on (the State of Texas elected officials) to take care of our kids.”
In these interesting times, look around for leaders — or be one yourself. Take positive action, be clear and pave the way for others to follow. We need you.