Yes, the title of this post is intended as tongue-in-cheek, perhaps even pandering to the idea that being contentious will always get attention. But I assure you that it is intentional and based on quite a bit of thought on ferries, buses walking to work, being involved in the community and so-on.
I am learning — too slowly for my tastes — that the skills of a good leader are almost the exact opposite skills that make a good blogger, presenter or advocate (let’s called the BPA for short). The BPA always has something to say. They offer advice. Provide pep talks. Identify trends. Like this or hate that. They fill niche markets, solve problems, serve their patrons and serve them well. But for all their brains and enthusiasm, they do not lead when they are in BPA mode.
A true leader is not a force for influence, but instead brings to light those things that BPAs desire the most. Their job is to ask questions that are likely to frustrate the BPA, or worse, throw questions that BPAs ask back at them. You see, when a BPA asks a question, it is usually purposive — intended to illustrate a point rather than to understand. A leader’s question is intended to separate all the possibilities — all the pet projects, ideas, designs, dreams that dance around in our brains — from the desires that we own in our hearts. That sounds like a load of wishy-washy bullcrap, but even neuroscience accepts that the entire body plays a role in our thinking. We spend so much time ignoring what our body tells us is right, because our brain — the power of logic and numbers — supposedly has all the answers. In brain mode we meet targets. In full body-mode, we crush targets. A leader’s question is a call to crush the meaningful targets and satisfice the mundane ones. Yes, work has to get done, but when passions are fulfilled – the work is not work anymore.
Now that the economy is showing, yet again, that we cannot continue to take our priviledge of wealth for granted I think we need collectively to remind others of their strengths, tell them when they are not pushing themselves hard enough, and ask hard, annoying questions when you think their ideas are just the same old fluff. I need that kind of leadership, and so does everyone else. If ever a time existed, now is a time to be bold and brave — and band together to crush our problems rather than merely solving them. We need to send tweets to the bloggers to remind them to keep going, and we need to tell that rude bus driver in the best way we can that he can do better than scowl at the people who choose the inconvenience of transit travel over the wastefulness of solo-driving our cars to work. This is not to demand better services, but to develop better community.
And, yes I do realize that I’m in BPA mode as I write this. 🙂
Help me out. What should I be doing to crush my targets? What am I missing in my librarianity?