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I have always been taken with this quote.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. — Barack Obama

I’ve been thinking about leadership and reading lots of blog posts on what it takes to fix work. Much of it falls on leaders. We expect our bosses to be parents, custodians and guardians.

Would you ask the same of yourself?

Can you do what you demand of others?

Would you confront racism, sexism, bigotry? Protect those who go first and rock the boat? Amplify good ideas? Own your biases and work hard to overcome them? Could you be a cultural steward? Do you turn off devices, focus on the people who matter? Stay physically and emotionally healthy? Listen more, talk less?

Could you try? I think you should.

Because you’re reading this blog post, the responsibility for change falls on you. I also believe that the people closest to the problem are the ones suited to solve it. That’s you. That’s me. We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.

It’s time to ditch the learned helplessness and stop waiting around for leadership to change the work environment. Stop waiting for HR and be your own HR. You’re talented, savvy and understand the work that needs to be done.

If you can’t fix work, nobody can.

7 Responses to Be the Leader You’ve Been Waiting For
  1. dougshaw

    Hi Laurie. You’ve highlighted one of a number of problems I have with the notion of ‘leadership’. It creates superheroes out of ordinary people, saviours to whom I abdicate responsibility for fixing things. Taking ownership of my situation is hard at times, it is tempting to blame others, or expect them to fix stuff, but it’s on me. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Laurie Ruettimann

      I remember once telling my grandmother that there was stray dog poop in the front yard. She said, “Won’t pick up itself.”

      That’s how I feel about work.

  2. Martin H Snyder

    As the pinnacle of evolution, there is not much more I could do to improve myself, but I appreciate your impulse toward the good Laurie! Fixing human nature is a tall order. I’d start with in-group amity/out group enmity and figure out ways to expand people’s notions of their in-groups. I try to think of mine as all of humanity (except the Taliban and their fellow travelers here and abroad). I imagine Pope Francis feels the same way. Or Roy Rogers. Or Mister Rogers.

    • Laurie Ruettimann

      You are hard at work fixing your overturned canoe/kayak, and I appreciate how you model continuous self-improvement! 😉

  3. BZTAT

    I certainly agree that we each have the responsibility to make change in our own domains. Obama’s words on this have been the cornerstone of my sanity since 11/8/16. Still yet, I feel the need to challenge you a bit on this. There are significant risks to being a change agent in the workplace when you are not in a position of power in an organization.

    Confronting racism, sexism, and bigotry in a system that is entrenched with these often makes you the one who goes first and rocks the boat, and that is a vulnerable place to be. I know. I have done it, and I have been thrown overboard.

    If you are speaking to those who are in the boat who could reach out to save rockers like me, yes. THIS. I can’t tell you how many people in my career who have pushed me to the front of the boat to fight for their causes, then simply watched as I got washed away and did nothing. If you are wanting someone else to fight your battle, you should at least stick up for them when they take the hits for you.

    But the reality is, most people won’t. Most people want change, but they aren’t willing to take risks for it. The risks are real, so can we blame them? Hmmm.

    I have lived and likely will die in poverty. I do so not because I do not have opportunity to garner wealth. I do so because I take risks that prevent me from amassing much in the line of financial success. I don’t recommend that people try this at home. It would be nice to NOT be treated like kryptonite by people who have been the beneficiaries of my boatrocking, though.

  4. William Tincup

    Hello!
    Is it me you’re looking for?
    I can see it in your eyes
    I can see it in your smile
    You’re all I’ve ever wanted
    And my arms are open wide
    ’cause you know just what to say
    And you know just what to do
    And I want to tell you so much
    I love you

    LR