Brave Leadership

It’s our belief at Bird, that everyone is a leader. You don’t have to be managing a team of people in the workplace to be a leader. You don’t have to be managing a team of people anywhere to be a leader.

You just have to be authentic, put your stake in the ground, and be brave.

CTI, the training company I trained with to become a coach shares this amazing story of leadership in their book ‘Co-Active Leadership‘:

‘On October 17, 1989, the workday in San Francisco was just coming to a close. South of the city in Candlestick Park, thousands had gathered to watch game three of the World Series. At 5:04 p.m., the Loma Prieta earthquake struck, shaking the earth, shattering windows, knocking down buildings and overpasses, and kicking up huge clouds of dust. Electricity was out throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and it was difficult to find out what had really happened. People flooded out of the downtown Financial District, intending to walk home or make their way through a tangle of automobiles and cable cars, as all the traffic lights were out.

At Kearny and Pine, however, traffic was flowing freely. A homeless man, well known for his presence on one of the corners of this particular intersection, was directing traffic. He had placed himself in the center of the intersection and was managing the flow with great care and panache. He stood tall as he waved cars forward from one direction and held his hand up firmly as he instructed others to stop and wait. Attorneys, stockbrokers, and other highly paid executives all followed his direction without question. People who just the day before had walked by the homeless man without a second glance now honked, waved, and blew him kisses.

No one had told the homeless fellow that he was the one to step up and lead. He didn’t need to wait for the authorities to arrive and give him a title. He just saw the need and decided that he was the man for the job. Those who were following his directions did not need to see a résumé to determine whether he had the requisite training. They immediately became dedicated co-leaders, eager to serve and support in whatever way they could.

Amid the chaos and disruption of the earthquake, at the inter- section of Kearny and Pine, leadership was flowing freely. There were no fancy titles and no one was elected. People did not give a great deal of thought to what was in it for them or if they were interested in being responsible. They just acted from their own humanity and heart, providing whatever was needed in the moment in a variety of different ways.’

Leadership comes in many forms, and rather than our classic image of ‘leading from the front’ as the Co-Active Leadership book shares, we can lead from the heart. I like to think of leadership as acting from the heart, whilst simultaneously tending to the heart. The wellbeing piece is always just as important as the way we show up for the people around us. We have to be kind to ourselves in order to have the reserves to be kind to others.

The man in the story acted on initiative, and a desire to be helpful, to be a fellow human being. So often we end up in silos, forgetting that those around us are probably feeling, thinking and believing similar to us. When we become brave leaders we reach out to others, we connect. And the world really needs some of that right now.

So we’d love to hear – how in your life right now, are you showing up, being brave and acting from the heart?

With love, Hannah and Team Bird

Ps. If you are interested in learning more about brave leadership check out this upcoming course from our partners The Hobbs Consultancy.

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

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