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Everybody Leads

December 12, 2011

Paul Schmitz, the founder and CEO of Public Allies, has recently published a book entitled, Everybody Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up.

Unlike many other leadership books, Everybody Leads focuses attention on leadership in terms of the action that one takes rather than on the position that one holds. Or, as Paul says, "moving from an emphasis on the noun leader to an emphasis on the verb to lead." And, in keeping with the mission of Public Allies, Paul speaks of leading as something one does to benefit communities rather than just one organization or group of individuals.

Paul defines leadership has having three parts:

  • Leadership is an action many can take, not a position that only a few can hold
  • Leadership is about taking personal and social responsibility to work with others for common goals
  • Leadership is about the practice of values that engage diverse community members and groups in working together effectively.

The process of leading and building community capacity is seen as a combination of three elements:
  • The leadership and engagement of residents
  • The services and support that neighbors provide to neighbors
  • Coordination and collaboration toward common goals among citizens, associations, nonprofits, schools, houses of worship, and businesses in a neighborhood.

And, to Paul, the how one leads represents the five core values of Public Allies:

  • Recognizing and mobilizing all of a community's assets
  • Connecting across cultures
  • Facilitating collaborative action
  • Continuously learning and improving
  • Being accountable to ourselves and others

Paul concludes by saying that in order to solve our most pressing problems as a society, we have to think about leadership, and about building community, in a new way. We have to look for new leaders in our communities, and we have to take collective actions that move groups of people toward common goals that are sustainable over time.

Everybody Leads is chock full of inspirational examples of people who have taken this path and with practical examples of how to get there. It’s well worth reading if your aim is either to be an effective leader or to develop new leaders for the societal issues and challenges of tomorrow.

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