What Remarkable Leaders Do that Average Leaders Don’t

Rosa Parks wasn’t the first black woman to stand up for herself in Montgomery, Alabama.

On March 2, 1955, nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, a skinny 15-year-old schoolgirl was yanked by both wrists and dragged off a very similar bus. (Newsweek)

Her name was Claudette Colvin.

Claudette was riding home on a city bus after school. The driver told her to give her seat to a white rider.

They took her off the Highland Gardens bus kicking and screaming. They charged her with assault and battery as well as transgressing city and state segregation laws. (Washington Post)

Claudette said, “It’s my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it’s my constitutional right.” (Biography)

“I felt like Sojourner Truth was pushing down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman was pushing down on the other—saying, ‘Sit down girl!’ I was glued to my seat.”

The leader:

Claudette said, “When I got to 10th grade at Booker T. Washington High, I had a teacher, Miss Geraldine Nesbitt. I think she came from New York. She helped me begin to question things.”

Claudette’s teacher, Geraldine Nesbitt had emboldened her students, teaching them about the 14th Amendment.

What leaders really do:

Before Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat, Geraldine Nesbitt taught her who she was.

Performance reflects self-perception.

Performance expresses who you aspire to become.

Claudette said, “(Geraldine Nesbitt) told us to write down on paper what we were going to be. I folded mine up and gave it to her. It said I was going to be president of the United States.” (Washington Post)

That skinny schoolgirl didn’t become president or a symbol for the Civil Rights Movement. But a remarkable leader taught her who she was.

How do leaders impact the way people think about themselves?

How do people feel about THEMSELVES after spending time with you?