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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

Waking up to lead

Jasper Schuringa, the passenger on Northwest Flight 253 who subdued Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab before he could blow up the plane, demonstrated bravery, responsibility and the ability to respond to a challenge. These are the qualities of natural leaders, the people we go to when we want something done. Unlike so many who go through life half asleep, these people are wide awake. They see a threat and act. Schuringa quickly grasped the danger to himself and others on that flight and responded.

Some people are naturally responsible. But others can be encouraged to wake up. Years ago, I worked with teen-aged boys in a Mexican village, trying to teach them to work together on an agricultural project. At the start, they were passive, fatalistic, brought up to follow commands from parents and authorities. Once they became aware that they were passively sleepwalking through life, some of them woke up, were able to respond to threats and opportunities, and became leaders.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  December 31, 2009; 6:38 AM ET
Category:  Crisis leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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