Your inner guerilla

mower-1.1What if you looked out of your window and saw acres of unmown public land?  Overgrown because the city had run out of funds and could no longer afford the upkeep of its public spaces? If you are Tom Nardone the answer is obvious.  You jump on your lawnmower and start mowing the public parks yourself.  Before you know it, an army of volunteers have joined you and you soon form the Detroit Mower Gang, with members volunteering their time to mow Detroit’s public parks so the kids have a safe place to play.

As Nardone believes: “Doing something is way more than doing nothing.”

In an era where leadership can sometimes seem like a hollow archetype – we’ve witnessed leadership failures across several significant public institutions – the beacon of hope is the rise of grassroots leaders like Nardone.  Guerilla leaders.

Glen’s Espresso in Brisbane, Australia, is another example of this kind of leadership.  Glen runs a coffee cart where conventionally you have a barista making the coffee and one person manning the till.  Glen decided to base his coffee leadership on trust.  As a customer, you write your coffee order on the takeaway cup, put money in the till and take out your own change. A simple instruction sheet tells you how to do this.

Neither Nardone nor Glen have a formal leadership title or mandate but each have chosen to make a difference through their actions.  All it takes is getting in touch with your inner leadership guerilla.

Please comment – I love hearing from you.

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  • Reply

    Yamini. I am definitely the ‘get on the mower, and mow it yourself’ type.
    You raise a really interesting and important point about leadership, volunteer or other.
    It’s personal.
    There are people who feel entitled, others who feel responsible and still another group
    who have empathy and take action based on this and their values.
    I’ve recently written a speech for a ASX company CEO around this very topic although
    it was expressed in a different way.
    In summary, leaders are people who know their values, act on them, have empathy (don’t judge
    others), and live their values every day.
    I don’t mow the local parks but I do sweep and clean the footpath along several houses in my street,
    plant the patches of green with bulbs so when spring comes everyone gets to smile.
    I’m not trying to lead, but I do hope others in the street will see what a little bit of
    care and thought can do. Maybe they’ll help…maybe they won’t.
    I’ll keep doing it anyway.
    Values not value; a hand up not a hand out.

    • Yamini Naidu

      Jacqui thank you so much for your comment. I feel your actions of sweeping, demonstrates your values and inherent leadership even though you don’t want that title. I have a broader view of leadership like you and think where people set the example, role model behaviour and do it by living their values, not for glory or fame is true leadership. Even though they may not want the title.
      Thanks so much for sharing, love your rich insights.
      Best wishes

  • Uma

    Yes, these are inspiring volunteer leadership. I loved reading it. We can certainly apply this in the community. A genuine attempt can be applied in corporate environment as well. However, corporate environment is little more complex. Always, people look for inner reason for why people do things; try to read too much into it. Once all understand the genuine nature, people will follow.

    • Yamini Naidu

      Thanks Uma. It is sad that initially initiatives like this are greeted with cynicism, but so important to still plough on.

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