One of the most dangerous myths to be perpetrated in American society is that the solution to today’s most vexing problems can be found by returning to a mindset of the past.
Entering a post-COVID era, America now needs to surmount crises like climate change, systemic racism, policing injustice, gun control, and political gridlock, in addition to the threat of future pandemics. The notion that this effort does NOT require new ways of thinking, or bold, creative ideas, or imaginative, new strategies, but the preservation of old-fashioned models and conventions is not only a fallacy, it is a fantasy.
Not only is such a presumption intellectually lazy and incurious in that it devalues incisive thinking and fails to spark innovation, it misconceives a realistic understanding of the kind of people who are truly prepared to lead and confront an entirely new set of challenges.
If it is NOT necessary for our leaders to have the capacity for complex thought, or to own a conviction to apply the most accurate data available, unclouded by political motives, if it is NOT vitally important to possess the ability to think broadly across multiple sectors to produce cohesion and coalition among multiple stakeholders, or to be completely authentic in upholding a commitment to achieve real results, we will be defeated before the next phase of the battle has even begun.
The crisis of leadership we face is no longer one about policy but about polity, a question of motives and of character. Follow the wrong leader and we will be led into one quagmire and one crisis after another. It takes not only the 5 Leadership Traits outlined in the new book, Taking Charge of Change: How Rebuilders Solve Hard Problems by Paul Shoemaker, but the kind of leaders the book portrays who personify those traits.
As the founding president of Social Venture Partners International—a global network of thousands of social innovators, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and business and community leaders that support social change agents in over 40 cities and 8 countries, Paul Shoemaker has partnered with individuals who have demonstrated they can think outside the box and that they have what it takes to cultivate ideas from startup to finish line. Paul also spent a decade at Microsoft and Nestlé and 5 years as a cross-sector consultant bridging the worlds of public, private and non-profit concerns.
A cross-section of the Rebuilders who Paul will introduce you to in Taking Charge of Change include:
Chris Gregoire, the former attorney general and governor of Washington State.
Trish Millines, cofounder of the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) that works with public education to create access to transformative systems of learning for students and teachers of color to eliminate race-based disparities.
Kathy Calvin, the first chief communications officer at AOL, who accepted the challenge of leading the United Nations Foundation (UNF).
Doug Baldwin, the Seattle Seahawks legend, whose voice for social activism personifies what 24-7 authenticity is all about .
Dan Cardinali, the president of Communities in Schools (CIS), the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization, with operations in twenty-six states and the District of Columbia. CIS serves more than 1.5 million of America’s most disenfranchised students.
Dreama Gentry, the executive director of Partners for Education (PFE) whose mission is to ensure all Appalachian students succeed, using four inter-connected strategies—Lifting Educational Aspirations, Building Academic Skills, Connecting College and Career, and Engaging Families.
Felipe Moreno, the deputy director of Public Works for the city of Phoenix, who applied his conviction to data as a strategic resource to create the first apprenticeship program in the nation for municipal solid waste equipment operators.
Michael McAfee, the inaugural director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute and the CEO of Policy Link.
…to name but a few.
In Taking Charge of Change, Shoemaker examines these natural leaders according to the Five Traits they share:
• A Generosity Mindset to apply the constructs of change with equanimity to real people in a real world.
• A Complexity Capacity to analyze where and how opportunities and connections arise that can be leveraged and sustained.
• A Cross-Sector Fluency to understand how real value exchange must move by and between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in both directions
• A Data Conviction to apply the best evidence and both qualify and quantify results in real terms
• A 24-7 Authenticity.to be driven by a profound belief in the virtue and veracity of your endeavors
“I didn’t write this book to talk about how to solve specific political or social problems in America. I’m not qualified to do so. I can say this: the kind of leaders it will take to begin to make real progress on the issues we face are some of the same Rebuilders it will take to make true lasting progress on the five megachallenges that are framed at the start of the book,” writes Shoemaker.
“We are ultimately working on the common underlying condition of an acceleratingly unequal and siloed America. We can all agree to work for a better future and take charge of change in all the right ways. We can all live our lives in a way that can lead to a more equal, interconnected nation in the 2020s. We can all aspire to lead in a way that will mean George Floyd did not die in vain. We can all be Rebuilders,” he concludes.
Shoemaker has created a podcast that chronicles the book and provides readers with the chance to listen to each Rebuilder in their own words. Subscribe to The Rebuilders Podcast: Leaders we Need for the Decade Ahead via the Website or through your favorite podcast portal.
LISTEN to the Podcast Rebuilders: Leaders We need for the Decade Ahead