Leadership through micro-actions
In light of the disconcerting state in which the world finds itself as the wheel of time brings us into 2017, emphasis needs to be placed on the expansion of the meaning of leadership, rather than its redefinition – which, in commercial and scientific literature, has been done ad nauseum in recent years. It is, therefore, my intention to focus on empowering so-called micro-leaders and thus improving the state of the world one micro-action at a time.
Leadership is a demonstration of integrity and dignity through one’s acts, ideas, thoughts and initiatives that encourage others to follow in their footsteps. Responsive leadership resonates with the needs and wants of the community and society; it listens carefully, reflects thoughtfully and acts passionately resulting in enthusiastic followership and more importantly, a legacy.
I believe that societies have underestimated leaders’ incredible potential to bring about more leaders. We have failed to perceive leadership as an echo. A leader’s actions, often without him or her realizing so, have a unique opportunity to inspire others to spread their own echoes and multiply them – perhaps on a smaller scale, but with an equally potent impact.
Sustainably resolving the most puzzling of riddles of today should not be the sole responsibility of incumbent political, scientific, academic, military, or corporate leaders. Yet citizens look up to them expectantly to find unique, relevant and consequential solutions to the world’s most complex and urgent problems as they meet during international summits and conferences; at the United Nations headquarters; or at the exclusive WEF’s annual meetings in Davos, Klosters. It is this rhetoric that needs to shift in order for the scale of responsibilities to balance. It is now time to truly empower all citizens to partake in the process and thus change the prevailing paradigm.
Can anyone be a leader then?
Making the world a better place and leaving a mark as a leader can be very overwhelming. However, when broken down into smaller steps – micro-actions – impactful leadership becomes more achievable. Micro-actions are projects run locally by micro-leaders – community experts and organizers – who have identified a gap in their community, decided to use their abilities to fill it and thus addressed and eliminated a given issue. When our current leaders embrace the concept of micro-leadership, encourage people to look for the gaps, and give them the right means and opportunities to seal them the impact can be far-reaching.
One example would be a nutritionist in Geneva, Diane F. who runs workshops on seasonal use of fruits/vegetables, explaining the detrimental effects their artificial out-of-season growth has on our ecosystem. This is a micro-leader with a great potential for a loud echo. Another example is a Slovak NGO, Youth Politics Education that connects students and recent graduates with internships in the public sector, thus addressing the issue of youth under-employment.
Essentially, the first step is to realize that none of us has less or more responsibility to lead the way or help others. In fact, when even the greatest of leaders among us endorse the idea of micro-actions we will find out that we all have an equal and a very manageable share of responsibility.
Consequently, step two is for our most powerful leaders to commit themselves to micro-action based leadership. This entails openly, publicly and actively using the resources at their disposal to support small-scale initiatives and results-oriented projects spear-headed and led by local community members that oftentimes go underrated and underfunded. Let’s not write off ‘less is more’ as a global leadership philosophy; it could secure a more caring and sustainable world.
My micro message
It is imperative that our current leaders lead their teams, departments, ministries, institutions, organizations, companies and countries with an eager focus on collective actions and outcomes. The recurrence of civil strife, intercultural and religious conflicts and natural disasters clearly demonstrates that treaty-based and promise-based leadership is insufficient.
Action-based leadership is inclusive; it unites, inspires, awakens, shakes up, motivates, initiates, creates and innovates. Most of all, it begins with the admittance that the few (s)elected leaders cannot be expected to help restore the world on their own. Their primary mission should be to create an echo resonating with so many other micro-leaders that a change for the better will not remain a mere option; it will become the inevitable consequence.
Where do I fit in?
Formerly Vice Curator of Ottawa Global Shapers Hub and Curator of Bratislava Global Shapers Hub, I strive to be a micro-leader by example. I constantly encourage the Shapers to look for gaps and to channel their skills and passions towards meeting demand.
It is through small and local initiatives that we have the greatest capacity to make an impact on the world we live in. In the new year I have launched a global journalistic project Micro-Leaders; its aim is to recognize existing micro-leaders and subsequently motivate others to join the micro-actions movement within their capacities and resources.