Proactive Leadership and The Founding Fathers

One of my colleagues presented in our lecture series at the Center for Positive Organizations.  He is a lawyer and he is involved in a movement to promote the practice of proactive law.  The practice of law tends to be inherently reactive and lawyers tend to let people know what they cannot do.  He shared many exciting ideas from his research.  He helped us see how law might become a more proactive function in the corporate world.  We were all impressed.

That night I watched some of the PBS series on John Adams who was a lawyer.  It depicted the Continental Congress.  In the early phases the representatives were trying to solve the problem of how to react to the tyranny of King George.  As they moved forward something important happened.  They began to envision a form of government that no one had ever seen before.  As they shifted their focus from their well-founded fears of retaliation and death, to the grand purpose of freedom for all men everywhere, they increased in unity and resolve.  It was striking to me.

Most of us seek after our self-interested survival and in doing so we proceed to undermine the unity of the group or team.  We are programed to operate in the normal assumptions of political self-interest, but it is possible to choose to move to a more proactive state.   This move usually invites others to that state as well.

We do this by first clarifying the highest collective purpose.  Doing this provides a value-based attractor, an image worthy of investment.  I am grateful for my colleague, I am grateful for the work of the founding fathers, and I am grateful for all of the leaders I have been associated with who inspire me, and remind me to act and not be acted upon.

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