Why Leadership Is About Dignity


As most of my followers know, I am always looking for guidelines and information about leadership that make sense to me. I came across the following submission and had to share it. If you are a leader in your family, community or at work, I think you will gain some insight from this take on leadership and dignity. I know I did.


Repost: Denise Restauri, Contributor

“A bold new way of tackling poverty that’s about dignity, not dependence and choice, not charity.” When I first read that on Acumen.org, I thought beyond poverty. I asked myself, “If dignity is about being worthy of honor and respect, what role does dignity play in leadership?”

To find the answer, I went to three Acumen Global Fellows from the class of 2013 – three women in their 20’s who are the next generation of social impact leaders, a new kind of leader who sees the world as it is and knows she can be a part of the solution that creates lasting impact on the ground. A one-year fellowship, 10-12 individuals from all over the world spend two months in New York undergoing intensive leadership training, followed by nine months working with one of Acumen’s portfolio companies in India, Pakistan, East Africa or West Africa. It’s not about sitting around and talking about the problems, it’s about taking action. It’s about leading.

These three Fellows will share their stories with us over the next few weeks. They are from three different countries: United States, Japan and China. They had three distinct experiences. And they all had major learnings about leadership and dignity:

1) Recognize human dignity. Each one of these women started with a goal to recognize and support human dignity. None of them wanted to help people that they felt sorry for, but rather, be part of a solution that recognizes the dignity in all people. That’s empowerment.

2) Do what’s right, not what’s easy. All of them learned by doing, combining their hard skills with new lessons about how to build trust and support teams to have an impact on the ground. It wasn’t easy and sometimes they couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but they kept moving forward with great integrity and intent.

3) Share the shining star. Each of them saw as their greatest lesson the need to collaborate with the people closest to the ground doing the unglamorous work of execution, day after day. It was not about being a shining star, proving what they could achieve, demonstrating their abilities. It always boiled down to their ability to listen to and learn from the teams they worked with and help them be shining stars.

4) Leadership is a muscle. Leadership is a muscle that needs to be trained and exercised in real life. The lessons they learned, how they overcame challenges, admitted to and fixed their mistakes – those learnings far outweighed the leadership lessons they learned from books.


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