“Yes we can!”
Boy, isn’t that a catchy phrase.
The word “we” is synonymous with enabling others to act, but there are a couple of other pieces that go along with that word:
- There are two kinds of power—Many leaders resort to “power over,” when they lose faith or trust (more on this in a minute) in their followers to accomplish the goals that leaders have articulated. Leaders with bad visions (i.e. Hitler, Stalin, etc.) do this more often than leaders with good visions (i.e. Steve Jobs, Moses, etc.). But “we” creates the second kind of power, “power with.” It empowers followers to see the vision and implement it in their own way.
- Trust is always an issue—When leaders “let go” and truly begin trusting “the masses” to move a vision forward, some followers aren’t going to get the message right. Some followers are going to be deceitful and self-serving. And some followers are going to fall away when it gets to be too hard. Martin Luther King, and Gandhi both experienced this, but it did not diminish their faith and trust in their followers.
- Carrying capacity increases—A leader who doesn’t have to control the “scope creep” of a spreading vision, is not really a leader. Part of acting on a vision is that when action starts, so do reactions: from friends, enemies, circumstances and opportunities. How does a leader know when to say “yes” and know when to say “no”? Well, when the number of followers increases because of trust and empowerment, then the ability to say “No, I can’t right now…but give it to Sally over there” becomes a statement of collaboration, rather than a principled rejection.
We without empowerment, trust and collaboration is just a word with smoke but no fire and followers can easily become cynical when its overuse transforms from inspiration to cliché.
“Yes we can!”
Ok. How will you?
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org