Through everyday, small, concerted actions we all can be heroes, for more than one day
For many people meeting their heroes can be a huge disappointment, they are either too human, or not human enough. There is a similar less starry underlying relationship between leaders and employees. Whilst not on a ‘pedestal’, they nonetheless stand ‘on high’ separate from us mere mortals, often isolated and a figurehead for both the glory and blame.
However, there is a very different sort of leadership emerging and a new kind of hero – one that expects more from all of us, but magically we rise to the occasion, drawn by sense of possibility imbued with ownership, and connected by purpose.
I have seen how this transforms leaders into catalysts for innovation, energising teams of people, instilling a culture of learning. Leaders who strive to understand and create the best possible conditions for their teams to flourish and achieve. These are my heroes, and my experience of meeting many them has been life affirming and inspiring, and not at all disappointing.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes
They walk amongst us every day but are not always discernible to the naked eye – hint, they do not wear capes or drive flashy cars. But they are the real deal. These people are making massive differences to our lives, at a local, national and global scale. Between them they have achieved more than most politicians have in creating positive change. As much as anything they have done so because they prove that extraordinary things are achieved with very small beginnings. That with small beginnings there is innate permission to genuinely evolve, learn and innovate.
The big budgets, grandiose plans, teams of employees, trumpeting their prowess around boardroom tables is not for them. Their successes are driven by simple determination to fulfil a clear purpose and through this mobilise hundreds of others to support and deliver their goals. Starting with little or no resource their advantage is in the freedom this allows. There are no stakeholders braying for certainty, or predetermined targets to meet, but their accomplishments would be the envy of many a fortune 500 leader; they have broken the mould of what leadership can be and a shaped a new model for us all to aspire to.
Within the last year I have met some of these Grassroots Heroes and quickly discovered that whilst they share many characteristics, they spring from a myriad of backgrounds and experiences. There is no box for these guys. From pensioners, the unemployed, marketing experts, mothers, college drop outs, nurses, business owners these over achievers defy the idea of what leadership is all about and raises questions about what makes a successful leader in modern world.
For all these people we hope to shine a spotlight. To illuminate the world with the stories that offer such inspiration and hope. To assert a new type of hero for the modern day, not the bombastic, in control guys, but those that have profound passion for their purpose, who bring others in to spread the glory and the responsibility, who work with reality rather than try to control it and have an emphatic sense of possibility. They show us that it is in small actions where greatest change derives, and from where something meaningful can be built. Importantly, they demonstrate how we all have something important and valuable to contribute.
We already have what we need we just need to learn to release it
Every one of these grassroots heroes recognise their debt to the people who have volunteered supported and worked alongside them, turning their vision into a reality. Everyone who steps up is welcome. No CV’s necessary, and yet these people who may have no ‘qualifications’ or ‘experience’ have been the reason behind their successes. Without them not one of my heroes could have achieved what they have done, in such a short space of time. So, this should give leaders everywhere pause for thought, what may they be missing amongst their teams of colleagues. How could they mobilise this same level of energy, interest and innovation from their organisations?
The most important contribution our grassroots heroes make is in showing all of us how through everyday, small, concerted actions we all can be heroes, for more than one day.