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Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert, a public-interest attorney and journalist, is the Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the theory and practice of women's leadership.

Sipping different types of tea

Q: Has the recent success of the Tea Party come because of, or in spite of, the movement's lack of a formal leadership structure? Along with Wikipedia, open-source software and organizations like moveon.org, is this another example of the power of distributed leadership?

The Tea Party has been very successful at spreading their message peer to peer and finding a dedicated cohort of people who are invested in their somewhat amorphous goals. Their biggest difficulty for the long term is preserving that cohesiveness when the aims of the "movement" are better defined. It's already apparent to outsiders that many of the "members" of this so-called party are sipping very different types of tea.

Social movements--like those fighting for racial justice, women's rights and now gay and lesbian rights--are driven by consistent moral philosophies and seek very concrete gains and reforms. As a result they are able to sustain interest over the long term despite disagreements on strategies and leadership styles. I will wait to see if the tea slingers can do the same and become more than a passing fad, born from the current economic crisis.

By Kathryn Kolbert

 |  September 21, 2010; 4:04 PM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The power of shared principles | Next: Can a movement lead without leaders?

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Why are the American People treating the terroist group known as the “tea party’ any different than the terroist group known as the “taliban”. Both groups use hatred and fear as their weapons of choice. Why?

Posted by: rkornegay1 | September 21, 2010 4:46 PM
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