To understand the leadership we need in these a-changing times, we will focus on two significant moments of the twentieth century and in two very different people, even if they both were able to bring together the illusion of the peoples to achieve collective goals.
The first example is Gandhi and his famous March of Salt in 1930. In India as a colony under the British Empire, also the sea salt was the occupying State’s monopoly. In a pioneering act of peaceful civil disobedience, Gandhi and thousands of followers walked 300 kilometers to the Indian Ocean coast. In a nod to history, the frail Hindu hand-picked a little salt and uttered the words: “You can break my fist, but salt will be not returned”.
It was a moment of courage followed throughout the country, although the colonial government put 60,000 of these salt thieves in jail, —Gandhi himself would spend nine months in prison—, and it would end up leading to a process that was an example of non-violence claim to human rights and freedom.
In the following generation, we are in 1962 with the speech by John F. Kennedy at Rice University, where he announced plans to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade, which was achieved on July 20, 1969. The words of the U.S. president seven years before, when the project was just a dream, deserve to be remembered:
“Why, some may ask, we chose the Moon and why we chose it as our goal? And perhaps people also ask, why climb the highest mountain and why 35 years ago we flew over the Atlantic? (…) We choose to go to the Moon in this decade, not because it is easy, but because it is difficult. Because that goal will serve to organize and sample the best of our energies and skills.”
Half a century later, we have other major challenges on than decolonization or the space race. At stake it is the survival of the planet and the human species. Following the crisis that has left exposed shortcomings of our system, we are faced with the absence of leaders that build trust and hope to build a new world. How to get out of this?
In the era of networks that connect all human beings, it may be necessary another form of leadership, each person who becomes aware of his actions and decisions without waiting for instructions from third parties. This leadership 3.0 can be based on the concepts conveyed by Gandhi and Kennedy, which can be summarized like this: take control of what is yours —that is, your life—, do not be afraid of what is difficult, and let your actions be your prayer.
Álex Rovira and Francesc Miralles
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