500 words: releasing

by kjbake01

So today I heard a story on NPR about the chicago style of dance called Footwork.

Here’s a crazy video:

Inside that story is a very brief reference to the informal system by which dancers become DJ’s.  That got me thinking about the buzzword movement. I’ve heard the word used to describe all kinds of things: models of business, philosophies, books, new styles of music and non-profits.  Phrases like ” it’s not a book, it’s a movement” blah blah blah.   As a card-carrying non-conformist most uses of the term don’t pass my internal B.S. test.

That being said, there are such things as movements. There are such things as organizations. (And books, films and other assorted nouns).  I believe–really– that some organizations become movements.  There are some great examples (like Alcoholics Anonymous, or Breath Dah for you DCI buffs) where local organizations moved national.

The key element in this is release.  People need to contribute as members, then develop as leaders and then LEAVE , taking the movement with them.  This is how Christianity spread throughout Asia 2000 years ago– this is how most great systems and ideas spread.

As a leader, don’t thwart this process. Help enable it.

You have to release your people to lead.

Back to our dancers in Chicago.  How are they managing to have parties in Chicago, battles in LA, tours in Europe, and concerts in Brooklyn at the same time?   The people are capable, and no one is stopping them.  Opportunities come, people move on, and others step up to take their place.  That’s what a movement looks like.

Why isn’t that happening to your “movement”?  A few ideas:

  •  is your org.  valuable to anyone outside your immediate group ?
  • are your leaders equipped to lead elsewhere?
  • are your leaders taking your system/org/values with them when they leave?