Emotional Revolution Network World

Leadership: self, us, now

In a recent conversation at the table with my uncle we discussed the absence of leaders in Europe. I believe there is an absence of leaders able to push societies through change. We live in transformational times, where political institutions that had legitimacy are losing it rapidly, leaving a void, which is not filled by alternatives that could provide people with a possible future. Only capable leaders can provide the force that is needed to show us where change is happening and how we can face it to make our world better and not worse. In this void, bad elements thrive, filling it rapidly, like weed.

What is a leader? What makes a leader? Marshall Ganz has great insights about these questions in “Leading change: Leadership, Organization and Social Movements” (chapter in “Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice”, ed. Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana. Harvard Business School Press, 2010). He defines leadership as

accepting responsibility to create conditions that enable others to achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty.

and he says that the need for leadership is

evident when encounters with the uncertain demand adaptive, heuristic, or innovative response: past practices are breached, new threats loom, a sudden opportunity appears, social conditions change, new technology changes the rules, and so on.

Change. All those changes that are happening right now, driven by technologies empowering the individual and non-state actors in front of traditional institutions, are creating a new environment where the weakness of “traditional” leadership institutions – e.g. national governments, political parties, capitalist entrepreneurs, mass media – is more evident than ever. They are losing the legitimacy they had to keep their influence on people’s behaviour.

What makes a leader? Ganz makes reference to the Walter Bruggemann’s “prophetic imagination” – “a combination of criticality (experience of the world’s pain) with hope (experience of the world’s possibility), avoiding being numbed by despair or deluded by optimism” – to explain leadership in social movements. He then mentions four core practices of this kind of leadership: relationships, story, strategy and action.

Let me focus on the story. The power of the story plays a very important role in influencing this imagination.

Learning how to tell that story, the craft of what I call public narrative, is a second important leadership practice.

The story needs to be both value-laden and emotional. It can’t be just “1+1=2”, for it needs to be emotionally appealing to the person receiving it. Ganz mentions Martha Nussbaum argument that “because we make choices based on values we experience via emotion, making moral choices without emotional information is futile.”

This moral and emotional story should affect the public narrative. It is a story of self, a story of us and a story of now. Like Obama told his story, linked it to the United States common destiny and the “yes, we can”, leaders need to connect themselves with the community, and both to action.

The power of story is important to communicate to people’s imagination where leaders come from, where we are, and where he/she wants to lead us. Yet, to do so, leaders need to build relationships, devise a good strategy and catalyse action. Ganz develops all these. It is a great starting point to analyse the leadership we live in. I must start from here.


Travel, football, work…my birthday

Went to sleep at 3, woke up at 6.30, travelled kms at 10.000 metres, played football, corrected papers…and now I’ll go to say hello to some people. Need to go to sleep early though. TomoThat was my 36th birthday.


Travel, football, work…my birthday

Warsaw, 9:44 pm – Went to sleep at 3, woke up at 6.30, travelled 1.445 kms at 10.000 metres, played football, corrected papers…and now I’ll go to say hello to some people. Need to go to sleep early though. Tomorrow I have to teach at 9 am…This was my 36th birthday.

Europe Network World Politics

Just thoughts

Tomorrow I’m flying to Warsaw. Since June, I’ve been training Polish civil servants on EU negotiations for the Polish Presidency in the second semester in 2011. I won’t tell you about my impressions at this moment. I’ll do it when the training is finished at the end of January 2011. At this moment, it is mixed, though more positive than negative…

In the meantime, France is melting down, or so it looks like. Would the government concede or the demonstrators become tired of so much protesting? I’d bet for the second. Sooner or later people will have to go back to their jobs, to consume and ignore the neighbour…this is not 68 anymore. This has negative – e.g. no further debate about the appropriateness of the economic measures or a path to change of economic model – and positive – e.g. defeat of the most conservative forces in the left (which are, I reckon, quite powerful in France (and arrogant too!)) – effects. Europe is trapped in this false dilemma between neo-liberal recipes for our economic predicament and old, reactionary social policies, which are based on the actual exploitation of a big part of the human population and natural resources e.g. cheap oil price, low salaries, authoritarian governments…

A new narrative, discourse is necessary. A discourse that’s brewing, and it’s actually there, but that needs (1) leadership and (2) momentum i.e. the right generation to support it. This discourse is based on simple ideas: (1) Big truths do not exist = nobody is 100% and always right, (2) we only have one planet, (3) we are what we are = we should solve our own problems, each and everyone of us, (4) everything is connected.

Mundo en Red Política


Cuando Francisco creo con varias personas me dije a mí mismo: hay algo interesante en esta plataforma pero el enfoque no es bueno. YoPolitico fue un fracaso. Pero de los fracasos se hacen los éxitos. De él, y su experiencia en campañas online, Francisco Polo (@franciscopolo) aprendió mucho y de él surgió Actuable, una plataforma para crear y apoyar peticiones online. En menos de una semana ya consiguieron más de 3,000 usuarios, y las peticiones no hacen más que crecer. El interface de usuario, diseñado por Alvaro Ortiz (@furilo) está basado en Ruby on Rails y está muy buen conseguido. Limpio, atractivo y agradable al “tacto”. Actuable ya ha salido en El Pais y el ABC.

Francisco Polo explica un poco más el proyecto en su blog. Por mi parte sólo decir, felicidades. Esta vez habeis dado en el clavo.

Network World

The strength of diversity

A diverse society is a strong society, less vulnerable to one-sided influences. Diversity brings different points of view and a richness of experiences and knowledge, which make its individuals more critical and creative. New York, California, London…are not flourishing because they are big and rich. They are what they are because they can accomodate diversity. A diverse group of people feels comfortable enough to live together and exchange experiences, knowledge, information. Diverse environments for creative innovation and creation. Compare them with the Ryads, the Pyongyangs, or even Moscows of the world…