ABOUT THE BOOK
Where is the leadership we need to solve our most pressing community problems? It’s all around us. Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up will inspire readers to see new leadership possibilities within themselves and their communities. It also offers a set of practices that will help leaders be more effective at bringing diverse people and groups together to solve problems. Many leadership books today focus on how to lead organizations; this book is about how to lead communities.
Paul Schmitz, CEO of Public Allies, shares the experiences and lessons his organization has learned from two decades of finding and developing thousands of young leaders across the country. The book is organized around a new definition of leadership: (1) It is an action everyone can take, not a position few hold; (2) it is about taking personal and social responsibility to work with others on common goals; (3) it is about practicing values that engage diverse individuals and groups in collaboration. Not everyone can lead in every context, but everyone has the capacity to step up, take responsibility, and work with others on shared goals.
The author uses inspiring stories and practical examples to demonstrate what it means to lead today. He describes the emergence of Public Allies’ leadership model (and the important role played by Michelle Obama, who left a prestigious legal career to found Public Allies Chicago) and demonstrates its impact through the experiences of young leaders it has nurtured – such as the deli worker who now runs a disability rights organization, the single mom in community college who now works at the White House, and the former gang member who is now an honors student and leads a job training program. Schmitz also describes his own journey as an aimless and delinquent youth to a national nonprofit leader and Presidential advisor.
The book surveys America’s democratic and civil rights history, current events, and leadership theory to demonstrate how collaboration among citizens has always been core to social change. It outlines five leadership values essential today: diversity and inclusion; teamwork and collaboration; recognizing and mobilizing assets; continuous learning; and integrity.
Everyone Leads offers a hopeful path for citizens, policy makers, and nonprofit organizations who want to build and engage the diverse leadership our communities and our democracy badly need.