In this article the author reflects on how she attended a recent Yale University ceremony where her son was graduating and honorary degrees were being given to various accomplished luminaries. One of those being recognised was Civil Rights leader John Robert Lewis (who passed away from pancreatic cancer in July 2020).
She writes about four important pillars of leadership that were exemplified by Lewis.
Principles and values are timeless
Lewis taught us to stand for something, and to make our position on what we value unequivocally clear by our actions. For most of us, demonstrating principled leadership and honoring our values is far less risky within the confines of an organization
Dare to Disrupt
“When you see something that’s not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to get in the way and make some noise.”John Lewis
Lewis championed non violent protest he talked about the courage of speaking up – when you see something that is unjust, not right or unfair – you have a moral obligation to get in the way and make some noise.
Align with others who inspire you
Lewis was inspired from his meetings with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr – they inspired him, taught him to be hopeful, optimistic, to never get lost in despair and never to hate.
Lewis became a figurehead linking the current leaders of social change with the past and in doing so he was keen to ensure that he left a legacy of positive change for racial justice. His phrase was to ‘get into good trouble’.
No matter where you lead – being a leader is all about motivation and inspiration and there is no question John Lewis was an inspirational leader.
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