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Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Nominee: Social Entrepreneurs

I define a leader as an individual who is able, without the use of force, to change the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors of other persons. When I wrote a book about 20th century leaders in the middle 1990s, the only living person I profiled was Margaret Thatcher. While I disliked many of her policies, Thatcher clearly changed how many people--both within and outside of Britain-viewed the country, and her influence continues to this day. Of other individuals who are alive, I would single out Nelson Mandela, who was able to bring together warring factions and to re-establish South Africa within the family of nations.

That said, if I were to define a Nobel Prize for Leadership, I would focus on individuals who have brought about changes for the wider good of humanity. In our current era, such changes are less likely to be brought about by political leaders than by social entrepreneurs: Individuals who can marshal human and material resources to tackle large and seemingly intractable problems.

In our era, the father of social entrepreneurship is Bill Drayton, who began Ashoka 30 years ago. Drayton merits the new Nobel leadership award. Within the United States, I would honor Wendy Kopp who, as a college graduate, launched Teach for America. And because social entrepreneurs must rely on the generosity of philanthropists, I would single out Bill Gates, George Soros, and Ted Turner--leaders who enable other leaders.

By Howard Gardner

 |  October 13, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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