Evaluating four acts of conspicuous leadership so far this week:
-Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Chicago’s police chief yesterday. This was not especially surprising but gets more interesting as you look deeper. The issue of course was the furor sparked by video of a police officer last year shooting a black teen 16 times. Major protests in Chicago and acid criticism from around the country forced Emmanuel to act. But he had stood by police superintendent Garry McCarthy for four-and-a-half years as crime, and murders in particular, increased dramatically. And while you could call the firing a bold act of leadership, you could less charitably suspect it was a way for the mayor to ease the pressure on himself; he and the city’s lawyers had argued in court that the video should not be released. The bottom-line reality is that the firing had to be done.
–Pope Francis concluded his visit to Africa on Monday. He has made the plight of the poor a central focus of his papacy, and this visit took it further than ever. It’s one thing to visit the poor of Europe or Latin America, quite another to visit the Central African Republic, among the poorest nations on earth with per-capita annual GDP well under $1,000. In addition, the Central African Republic is a war zone. The pope’s dramatic actions do not alter church positions on any important issue. But they amplify his message and inspire admirers, and that’s effective leadership.
–Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, yesterday announced the birth of their daughter and their intent to give away 99% of their fortune. What a convergence of events – you have your first child, you announce that during your lifetime you’ll give away virtually all of her potential inheritance, and you do it on Giving Tuesday, the four-year-old designated day for making charitable donations. I like the whole thing, mainly because it may inspire other mega-wealthy people to give away pretty much the whole boatload, as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are doing. Zuckerberg’s Facebook shares are worth about $45 billion.
–Esau Marquez, a man whose name has probably never appeared in bold type before, made my favorite act of leadership so far this week, taking charge of a possibly deadly situation in San Francisco. Marquez is a bicycle deliveryman who on Monday heard people screaming on a sidewalk on Market Street. He observed a woman in a state of shock and blood on the sidewalk; a stabbing, he thought. Then he noticed an infant on the sidewalk. The woman had just given birth, and while others were standing around her yelling, no one was doing anything. Marquez immediately wrapped the baby in his jacket and slapped it on the back. It started breathing and crying. “Everyone was standoffish,” said a witness. “But he jumped in and probably saved that baby’s life.”
It’s today’s reminder that leadership is defined only by action, not by title or position or anything else.
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|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|