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Voting, an Act of Leading From Where You Are, Yes and…

| November 8, 2022

by Sean McDonald

[Today’s Tuesday Reading is from Sean McDonald, Vice-President of MOR Associates. Sean may be reached at [email protected] or on LinkedIn.]
In a recent taxi ride home from the airport, Faisal, the driver, was eager to share his frustrations with the world’s problems. He was smart and thoughtful about seeing the big picture of complex systems. When I asked him what he and I can do, on the ground, he pointed immediately to electing the right officials. I appreciated Faisal’s clear connection to ‘leading from where you are.’   He was taking the initiative to engage.  He understood the causes and effects of why things were as they were, and he also understood what was in his control to influence.
This is a fitting story to share today, Election Day. Voting is our collective duty, and a clear act of leading from where you are. It has me thinking though, the act alone isn’t enough. Like leadership at any level, taking action without intentionality can be rife with peril. Have you ever shown up to vote without doing the proper due diligence on all the candidates and questions on the ballot? Reading the ballot questions is hard enough, does a no mean yes, and what exactly does a yes do??? In these cases our biases can jump in, and that can be dangerous. We may vote naively upon party lines and familiarity. We may recall loose connections and small bits of influential breadcrumbs others have left for us along the way. Like with our leadership, we all too often rely on our own instincts. Though our instincts have served us well many times, such complexity and evolution is a grand reminder that we need to constantly educate ourselves, reflect on evolving inputs, and understand various perspectives. Like Faisal, we need to understand the evolving picture of the causes and effects in the systems we operate in.
In talking this through last week, Marcia Dority Baker, a friend and colleague at MOR, was quick to remind me that there are other ways to lead from where you are and impact these complex systems that surround us. For her, a direct line of sight was engagement. Jump in, get involved, volunteer, run for local positions of influence. She is right. Know what you stand for, and stand for it. At our table that evening was Kyle Shachmut, a friend and the Director of Digital Accessibility at Harvard. He shared a great example of getting involved in an election campaign years ago linked to a topic he is passionate about: accessibility. He stayed connected to that person and subsequent campaigns. That person is now the leading candidate to be the next governor of Massachusetts. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kyle is presented with a wider platform to impact a topic he is passionate about. Marcia, Kyle, and Faisal all inspire me. We should all find time to reflect on what we are passionate about and find a way to engage.
Vote. Be intentional, do your preparation. Lead from where you are. Engage. And also stay open, constantly educating yourself and gaining perspective from others’ views. As a country, listening and working together will be the only way forward.


This Week’s Survey

Which do you feel is most impactful in leading from where you are?


From Last Week
Last week we asked about your personal experiences with the full potential of community:

  • 42% said I currently do, both at work and outside of work.
  • 17% said I currently do, but only outside of work.
  • 9% said I currently do, but only at work.
  • 22% said I have, but not currently.
  • 10% said I have not.

A personal sense of belonging and growth are central to the benefits of strong communities.  We are glad that 2 out of every 3 of us are currently experiencing those benefits at work and/or outside of work.  However, remember communities take intentional effort to nurture, sustain, and grow.  How can we lead from where we are to continue to positively evolve those communities?  For the 1 out of every 3 of us who do not currently have the experience of a strong, supportive community, how do we nurture our need for belonging and growth?  Perhaps there are individual relationships that provide this.  Perhaps there are moments of community that can be built upon.  How do the inspiration of Faisal, Marcia, and Kyle help us to lead from where we are in strengthening those communities?