Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 3

Excerpt from Innovate: Lessons from the Underground Railroad by Sybril Bennett, Ph.D.

Chapter Three: The History of the Underground Railroad, pages 26-28

Harriet Tubman, originally named Araminta Harriet Ross, was born in 1822. She helped guide hundreds of the enslaved to freedom. Slaveholders offered tens of thousands of dollars for her capture. Tubman met like-minded people whom she could trust in order to realize her goal: freedom for her people. In a sense, she managed her brand, her reputation, and her desire for the enslaved to be free. She used her instinct and the tools placed in her path. The Black Moses, as she was called, didnt have technology in order to communicate. She was a disruptive force just like the Underground Railroad. She was an out-ofthe-box innovator, Black, female, and an enslaved person implementing creative strategies for success. Harriet Tubmans story isnt chronicled in most leadership books, guides, case studies, websites, or manuals. Tubman is definitely a Jim Collins level five leader, as described in his book Good to Great. Collins level five leader doesnt take credit for initiatives; they operate with integrity, encouraging and empowering the team to succeed as well as acknowledging their contributions. In Tubmans case, she gave the credit to God. She prayed, expected, and received deliverance. She clearly mastered what Collins calls the Stockdale Paradox: believing no matter the situation. Innovators have to believe in the impossible. By speaking directly to her passengers, Tubman embodied true leadership without electronic tools. Face-to-face communication is still the most effective way to convey a message. In her day, part of Tubmans brilliance was due to her mastery of the art of communication. Leaders must exercise the art of listening and sharing information. Tubman was a woman in a male-dominated society, and she had every excuse to remain silent: she was African, female, and enslaved. Even for women in contemporary society, the problem of sex discrimination persists. An embarrassing example is the Augusta National Golf Clubs refusal to allow female members. After an unsuccessful lobby by activist Martha Burk in 2002, the club finally admitted two women in 2012, after 80 years of gender-based exclusion. Pay inequity is one of

the myriad other issues that still remain for women. The documentary Miss Representation captures the modern day experience of women, showcasing the need for innovators. Innovators speak through action; they make it happen. They dont talk, they do. Like all slaves, Tubman was considered chattel. In spite of her invisible status, she shared her vision to solve the problem. She acknowledged it, she identified it, and then she innovated to solve it. She organized people without actually organizing them. She couldnt hold meetings or connect with people virtually; she did everything manually and personally. The enslaved African encountered and transcended communication, physical, geographical, mental, and financial barriers in order to secure their freedom. Instinct, intuition, and the internal voice are valuable characteristics for leaders. Tubman embraced her spirituality and utilized it on the UGRR. In order to innovate, one must have faith it can work; risk takers are fear- less enough to follow a hunch. Tubman led from within and her followers believed in her intuition. The ability not only to hear, but also to heed the voice within, is immensely important; not only for the unofficial leaders on the UGRR, but also for innovators of the information superhighway. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams both credit following hunches for part of their success. This is the case author Malcolm Gladwell makes in the book Blink; in certain instances, having too much data can be a hindrance. Tubman used her voice as well as natural resources to bring people together in order to facilitate freedom. She did not have technology. Now, the Internet is a platform where people are able to communicate, organize, and implement change. This is exactly what took place through the Underground Railroad network. A group of disconnected people took unprecedented chances for a common goal without the luxury of modern day resources, technologies, or communication tools. As previously men- tioned, social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn,

and Twitter provide the digital foundations for electronic communication in the early twenty-first century. The Underground Railroad was a crucial network offering a way for people to organize for a cause and the Internet is, too. In the digital age, messages are sent instantly via mobile devices, text, and email. The enslaved did not have these technological luxuries.