Leadership Manifesto: Wangari Maathi View


A wise person once said: if you take a man who has the ability to lead 1000 people and give him 100 to lead, 900 people will come. But if you take a man who has the capacity to lead 100 people and give him 1000 people to lead, 900 people will leave.

This has much more to do with the capacity of leader, out of the box thinking that a leader has.

As a leader, change begins with you.

The situation will not change unless you change yourself. A business will not grow until the leader grows, usually a business will not outgrow the leader’s capacity.

It becomes a bit difficult for an organisation to mature when the leader is not matured.

No matter how small or insignificant you think you are, change always starts with one individual.

Increase your capacity to lead a cause, then other people will join you and the organization will grow.

Professor Wangari Maathai started an environmental cause and more people came and this saved the Kenyan environment.

The Story of the Hummingbird, as told by celebrated Kenyan environmental activist, women’s rights advocate, and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai is a great analogy of leadership capacity.

We are constantly being bombarded by problems that we face and sometimes we can get completely overwhelmed.

The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All the animals in the forest come out and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning and they feel very overwhelmed, very powerless, except this little hummingbird.

It says, ‘I’m going to do something about the fire!’ So it flies to the nearest stream and takes a drop of water. It puts it on the fire, and goes up and down, up and down, up and down, as fast as it can.

In the meantime all the other animals, much bigger animals like the elephant with a big trunk that could bring much more water, they are standing there helpless.

And they are saying to the hummingbird, ‘What do you think you can do? You are too little. This fire is too big. Your wings are too little and your beak is so small that you can only bring a small drop of water at a time.’

But as they continue to discourage it, it turns to them without wasting any time and it tells them, ‘I am doing the best I can.’

“And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always be like a hummingbird. I may be insignificant, but I certainly do not want to be like the animals watching the planet goes down the drain. I will be a hummingbird, I will do the best I can.” — Wangari Maathai

In the 1970s, Professor Maathai founded The Greenbelt Movement, an organisation that works to empower women through environmental conservation, and educates communities about their political, economic, and environmental opportunities.

The Story of the Hummingbird describes her motivation around these pursuits, but it is also an allegory for participation and personal empowerment that we can apply to any challenge.

We are the leaders we have been waiting for.

In a 80 000 capacity stadium, there are 80,000 spectators and there are 22 players. The spectators are passive and reactionary, they wait to be entertained, their moods are in the hands of the players. And then there are players.

The players are the ones who are truly alive. Change comes from the players.

Get into the game and play, if you improve your game (capacity), 80,000 people will come.

Prof Maathai did it, thank you.






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