|On Saturday, December 10, 2011 on the Tavis Smiley Radio Program
(WBUR), Tavis interviewed Paul Schmitz, CEO of Public Allies, and
recent author of the text "Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the
Community Up." |
Paul Schmitz is someone who has spent the last 20 years of his life
guiding young people in leadership positions. Paul knows firsthand
that there is incredible untapped leadership throughout our
community. He is sharing his lessons in his new text and offers
and leaders a roadmap to turn their passion into long-term change.
Leadership is about an action people take, not a position people fill.
Is something available to everybody. It's about stepping up to take
responsibility, personal responsibility, because you're going to be
accountable to the goal and social responsibility because you are
working for a goal that will benefit others. It is about the practice
of values that make you someone that people want to follow, they give
you credibility. Those are things available to everyone. Change has
always come from the leadership of many people, not just leadership of
the few especially those in power.
My focus is to help inspire more people find new leadership possibilities within themselves and their communities.
This new generation coming of age definitely wants to step up and make
a difference. We find that this generation is more engaged in service
than prior generations to their communities. They are more tolerant of
diversity. They are more diverse themselves. Technology has flattened
access to information and lowered the barrier of entry for people to
|The question of entitlement - all people
have the ability and power to step up and lead. There are some
people who believe they should be able to walk in and take
charge. Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership
is something you earn by your values and practice and the
responsibilities you take on. |
The Occupy Movement has been a demonstration of the leadership of the
many. At the same time for their long-term success to sustain
what they're doing, it will take some level of organization and at some
point some kind of authority. The leadership of the many on one
hand means that everyone can step up and make a difference. It
does not mean that there is also not a need for leaders.
Leadership values are more important than leadership skills. One
of the models I talk about in the book is the Army's Leadership Manual
which is defined as “Be, know, do.” Be: who are you as a
leader? What are the values that guide you? What is your
personal mission? How do you work with others? Once you get the
first part straight, then you need to get the knowledge and skills to
achieve that mission to put those values into practice.
|I think too often leadership development is seen as focusing on
skills, networks, power and things like that. As a result people learn
how to network with people in power or they learn management skills.
Leadership is not the same as management. Leadership does require
values. Today the community leaders are the ones who see the half full
side of the glass as well as the half empty side. They are realistic
about the challenges and problems. They don't walk away from them but
they also see the opportunities and possibilities often in people in
communities where no one else sees them.
Those are the values that are needed to guide leaders today. A lot of
the cynicism about leadership today in society comes from the fact that
people see leaders not practicing values or being contradictory or
practicing hypocrisy. But when people see leaders who are grounded in a
set of values, that is what inspires people to follow.
- They are people who are inclusive and make sure that their table has the right voices and different voices.
- They are people who are collaborative. They know how to bring people together.
- They are folks who are constantly learning and they have
integrity. They hold themselves accountable to the people they work
with and the people they serve.
People had a lot of hope before the last election but
the reality of the economy is a big challenge. Young people are
finding the economy very difficult for them. The stagnation of
politics, for example super committees, filibuster proof majority's,
the mechanics of Washington becoming more important has turned people
Ohio and Wisconsin are examples of states where people are not
just walking away from the political process. Both the Occupy Movement
and the Tea Party Movement show that people are getting engaged. I
would argue that we have a more engaged public now than at any time
during the last decade.
The occupy movement, the recall efforts and the tea party indicate a
great desire among young people to make a difference.