My friend Gunter phoned me just after New Year and asked me to meet Chido. She happened to be in Belgium, and he wanted her to meet with the (my) “family”. I didn’t expect to find a lady that would so deeply inspire us all and lead to this New Year Hope N° 2 Message.
Yesterday she visited us. Immediately the whole family fell in love with her.
What a lady! What a story! What a project!
Let me share this with you first by way of introduction, starting from Zeri’s website:
“CHIDO GOVERO AND THE KINGDOM OF MUSHROOMS
Chido Govero, never knew her father and witnessed her mother die from AIDS. At the age of seven she become the head of a small family nucleus, with her younger brother and blind grandmother. Her uncle and cousin abused her, “the price girls have to pay to have a shelter at a family’s plot of land”, she asserts is rather the rule than the exception.
At the age of 12 she learned how to farm mushrooms with a ZERI Foundation scholarship, converting leaves, dead tree branches, water hyacinth, coffee pulp and corncobs into a substrate. Chido is believed to have “green” fingers, farming more mushrooms on less substrate than anyone else. She is on a crusade under the ZERI program “Orphan Teaches Orphans” convinced that the only way girls can escape abuse is when they know how to provide for their own food security. By April 2009 Chido has trained her first dozen assistants and she is determined to reach out and network throughout Africa to create millions of jobs and to stamp hunger out of the continent with what is locally available.”
I believe Chido’s project shows admirably how social innovation and entrepreneurship is spearheading the way towards the “Future of the Economy”, as indicated in my previous blogpost.
But there’s much more than that in her story: What I want to highlight very specifically here, what amazed me beyond measure, and what brings me so much hope, is her extraordinary example of:
The kind of Leadership we will need to transform our World…
Leadership away from the old idea that I would dare to call “macho” leadership: that of a, usually male, Warrior, Head, Chief, Boss, Expert… towards:
A leadership “Who maybe has come to put an end to leadership”
I take this from the conclusions of Ronald Heifetz and Riley Sinder, in an illuminating essay, brought to my attention and so thoroughly analyzed and discussed in Robert Kegan’s “In Over Our Heads”, pages 321 to 334
In their review of the various conceptions of leadership today Heifetz and Sinder conclude that all thinkers agree that : “The successful leader must combine two talents: an ability to craft and communicate vision, mission, or purpose; and an ability to recruit people to take out membership in, ownership of, or identification with that vision, mission, or purpose.”
Their own conclusion though is that, given the increasing complexity of the demands that are put on people and organizations:
“The exercise of leadership today calls for providing a context in which all interested parties, the leader included, can together create a vision, mission, or purpose that they can collectively uphold”.
I deeply believe that this second kind of leadership will enable organizations and people to flourish and develop their highest potential in the complex and uncertain times we are facing. At the same time, it will also allow organizations to become actors in the unfolding of a positive future.
The flipside: as is the case with most profound change it will have to contend with a very great number of obstacles, not the least that of allowing all actors in the system to develop a higher level of consciousness.
“Ad Augusta Per Angusta”.
That being said, where such leadership has been applied, the results are spectacular, I’ve experienced in my own work. An increasing number of organizations, in all walks of life, in all countries, are showing results that justify and confirm the theses of Kegan, Heifetz and Sinder.
Chido’s example is extraordinary in that she has shown this second kind leadership since the year of seven. And, as can be read above, at age 25, Chido’s project “The Future of Hope” has no small ambitions. It is well under way. Moreover, we could meet her yesterday because she was crusading in Europe to find support for moving her project beyond Africa.
She truly more than deserves this blogpost on Leadership to be dedicated to her.
Second in line though: I would also want to pay public tribute to Gunter. After all, he has created the context for Chido to escape her predicament, develop herself and her project. He has thereby shown yet another beautiful example of enlightened leadership. And this is not his only one. Thank you Gunter, what a lesson!
Hope all around…