Once I find someone that I enjoy reading, I keep reading them and try to read everything they write. Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog is on my reading list. In fact, it arrives in my in box around 4:45 am and I tend to read it when I wake up.
A recent post drew attention to a study conducted by James Fowler and Nicolas Christakis, “Cooperative behavior cascades in human social networks.” According to Fowler and Christakis, behavior is significantly influenced, both directly and indirectly. Now, this cascading of behavior can also happen with uncooperative behavior, but thanks to our human tendency to mimic others, there is an opportunity to allow altruism, benevolence, and goodness to spread.
So, if you could make a difference today, would you do it?
I have been transformed by people that I have met and with whom I have interacted. Fortunately, several of those experiences would fall into the category of “cooperative” behavior. Is it possible that I could also inspire the behavior of others? Is this my chance to pull myself out of the poverty of leadership that slows progress toward achieving justice and peace and positively influence others in my networks? Is this my opportunity for leadership?
In their book The Leadership Challenge, authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner outline five practices of exemplary leadership. The first of these five practices is Model the Way. Behind this practice is being a good example and living what you say. I need to be clear about my values and, in my own voice, distinctively give voice to those values. They go on to state, “People follow the person, then the plan.”
In the marriage of quality leadership and cascading cooperative behavior, the possibilities for our future break wide open. We have an opportunity to soar to new heights and realize the visions and dreams that we have set for ourselves personally as well as for our organizations and communities.
So the question to ask is not what can be done for each of us or what someone else is going to do to make change. The question is not even, “If I could make a difference, would I do it?” The fact is cooperation cascades. There is a sphere of influence that those behaviors ripple through. Our actions will be multiplied. Therefore, I have to ask:
I can make a difference, so what am I going to do today?
Ifeoma Aduba, AWP Associate Director