In his TED Talk, Dudley (2010) seeks to redefine leaders as “regular” individuals who go out out of their ways to improve each other’s lives . His story of changing a life through a silly gesture that he doesn’t even remember reminds us of how, as individuals, we are continuously affecting the lives of others without even realizing it. Dudley (2010) argues that, rather than consider leadership about changing the world, “We need to get over the fear of how extraordinarily powerful we can be in each other’s lives.”
Dudley’s (2010) definition of leadership is interesting in that it disassembles the binary and power dynamic of leader and follower. Rather, his definition identifies all people as leaders and denotes a bit of accountability to boot. It could be argued that Dudley’s (2010) rhetoric is reminiscent of the humanist perspective of lifelong learning from the 1970s where, “…lifelong learning was advocated…as a model that would promote a better society and quality of life and allow people to adapt to as well as control change (Dave, 1976, Lengrand, 1970 as cited in Rubenson & Walker, 2006, p. 174). That all people are responsible to contribute to creating a better society is emphasized in Dudley’s (2010) call to action, “ We have made leadership about changing the world and there is no world, there is just six billion understandings of it and if you change one person’s understanding of it, one person’s understanding of what they are capable of…one person’s understanding of how powerful and “agent for change” they can be in this world, you have changed the whole thing.”
To further situate Dudey’s 2010 TED Talk in the context of leadership, civil society, and adult education, democratic participation, not just through voting, but through engagement could easily act as criteria for holding the world’s “everyday individuals” as accountable leaders. After World War One, educators,”…realized that thinking people were much more able to play a part in the wider life of society…it was reasoned that only by having a thinking and educated people that a democratic society could be accomplished…” (Jarvis, 1983, p. 9 as cited in Mirth, 2003, p. 38). Almost a century later, how many people are truly engaged in their democracies? Is it possible that Dudley’s talk and, perhaps TED as a community are symbols of a changing perspective of involvement in society as “educated people” and everyday leaders? What are your thoughts?
Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership. [TED Talk]. (2010, September). Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership.html
Mirth, D. (2003).The marginalized role of non-formal education in the development of adult education. The Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 17(1), 19-45. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/203166112?accountid=14656
Rubenson, K., & Walker, J. (2006). The political economy of adult learning in Canada. In Fenwick, T., Nesbit, T. & Spencer, B. (Eds.) Contexts of adult education: Canadian perspectives (173-186). Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, Inc.