Some of the world’s best leaders are the most unlikely and unexpected people – those individuals who would have stayed as faces in the crowd, according to the dictates of traditional notions of leadership. I’m thinking of Gandhi, Malala Yousafzai and sixteen-year old climate activist, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. Ordinary people with extraordinary passion and commitment to a cause, who are inspiring their generation.
In an uncertain and ailing world, today we need leaders more than ever. We need people in all corners of the globe to step up and inspire change. Yet, too often we tend to think of ‘others’ as being those leaders.
Cathy Burke, Global Vice President of The Hunger Project and author of Unlikely Leaders: Lessons in Leadership from the Village Classroom has undergone an evolution in her own work and life to become a global leader. There came a moment when she realised she could be a leader and that she needed to say ‘yes,’ find her voice, step into that role and adjust her thinking and belief systems.
“If leadership occurs in one person, it occurs in everybody. It isn’t a theory and about someone over there.”
Her work over two decades with The Hunger Project has given her intimate access to grassroots leaders who are ending hunger in their villages. Though they may be impoverished and non-literate, these women and men are at the forefront of courageous and effective leadership. Cathy has been exposed to some of the most confronting and difficult human circumstances in her work. But she has been deeply touched by the courage and vision of these people from all walks of life.
“These women and men are truly the Unlikely Leaders. They are at the forefront of demonstrating what it takes to evolve, lead and grow in the harshest of conditions. Empowered, they can, and do, come up with innovative, practical, and long-lasting solutions to the issues they face. They ignite a brilliant torch for all of us regarding what it means to be human.”
Here Cathy talks about how to awaken the spark of leadership that exists within us all.