Engaging Leader™

059: Rebel Leader: 8 Lessons from the Rebellious Leadership of Rosa Parks | with Cody Gascho

The Rebllious Life of Mrs. Rosa ParksSome leaders have it tougher than others. Maybe you have it easier, where the vision is popular and its mostly a matter of keeping everyone focused on getting there. But what if to reach your vision, you have to paddle upstream … and not only that, you need to persuade an entire armada that the vision is both desirable and feasible?

Rosa Parks was one of the best-known leaders of the civil rights movement in the US. In fact, Congress called her “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.” She tends to be portrayed as a tired old seamstress who sparked the civil rights movements by refusing to give up her seat on a bus, but actually she was only in her 40s and had been involved in civil rights leadership since 1943 … 20 years before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Jesse is joined by Cody Gascho, Lead Guy at Praxis Church, to discuss leadership lessons from Rosa’s example as a rebel leader … leading people toward a long-term purpose that may not have widespread popularity and may even appear hopeless.

  • Long-term vision and purpose
  • Individual, thoughtful courage
  • Trust and credibility
  • Character lived out
  • We Not Me
  • Humble
  • Investing in young people
  • Reading

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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If you like our show, please rate us on iTunes. That makes a huge difference in helping more people discover it. We love to know your thoughts about this episode. Please submit your comments below! You can also email comments to Jesse at [email protected], subscribe to him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.


Who Has the “Why”?

All of us at some point wonder if what we’re doing matters. Photo courtesy of BigStock (1749550).All of us at some point wonder if what we’re doing matters.
Jeff Goins, You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)


Some time ago, author and career coach Kevin Brennfleck told me about a time when he and his wife Marie noticed construction workers installing underground pipe near their home. When they questioned the workers why they were installing a new line, the workers responded with a shrug that they didn’t know why — they were simply told to lay orange pipe, so they were laying orange pipe.

Does it sound like those workers are satisfied with their life’s work? Is their employer getting 110% engagement from them? Are their customers getting full value for the money?

Most likely, no, no, and no.

And yet, the work they do directly impacts the quality of life for Kevin, Marie, and any other indoor plumbing-enjoying resident. In fact, some Americans will actually sacrifice vacation time and money to volunteer in third-world countries to do similar work as these construction workers so that people can have clean water and sanitation. The construction workers in Michigan may not know the “why” for their work, but you can bet the volunteers in third-world countries know the “why.” And the “why” is the starting point for most people becoming fully engaged in their work.

Keeping employees (and ourselves) engaged in their work is significantly impacted by TPI:

  • Team purpose – Understanding and believing in the “why” of my organization and what difference we are making in people’s lives.  (Why does our work matter?)
  • Personal purpose – Understanding the “why” of my specific work and what difference I’m making toward the team purpose. (Why do my personal skills matter?)
  • Interesting to themFinding a good mix of work so that at least 50%-80% of activity fits my personal wiring and provides opportunities to learn and grow. (Why should I enjoy the work itself?)

Who is responsible for these three components? Who has the “Why”?

In The Employee Engagement Mindset, Timothy Clark reports that fully engaged employees (only 20% to 25% of employees in the average organization) view these as their own responsibility. “Engaged employees take primary responsibility for their careers, their success, and their fulfillment,” he says. “They own their own engagement.” The other 3 out of 4 employees view it as the company’s responsibility.

The lesson for individuals? Be among the top 25% of people who take personal responsibility for their own engagement — find out how your work matters, or make appropriate changes so that you can do work that you are passionate about. If job seeking, don’t just chase any job that is posted — pursue the employers that are accomplishing things that make your pulse race.

The lesson for leaders? First, try to hire individuals who own the “why” themselves — they already know why the work matters, why their personal skills matter, and why they find the work interesting. Second, never take it for granted that your people understand the “why” of your business and the “why” of their own role — take every opportunity to communicate the “why” in a variety of ways.  Acknowledging that your employees have a need to feel like their efforts matter will generate the 110% engagement you want to achieve.

What is the “why” of the work you are focusing on in 2013?


3 Ways to Motivate Employees [video]

According to Daniel Pink’s bestselling book DRIVE, the three greatest intrinsic motivators today are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. When these three circles come together, your employees will find an intrinsic satisfaction in work that matters. And rather than mere compliance, you will have something much more powerful than mere compliance — you’ll have engagement.


Listen to episode 10 What Every Leader Ought to Know About DRIVE, of the Engaging Leader podcast

Engaging Leader™

010: What Every Leader Ought to Know About DRIVE

What Every Leader Ought to Know About Drive
©2009 Daniel Pink

In this episode, Jesse’s cohost is Marty Lahey, who is not only his father but is also accomplished in the business world. Marty has an MBA, spent many years in leadership roles at a Fortune 500 company, has been CFO of several organizations, and 10 years ago he started up a restaurant and catering business that he still leads today.

Jesse and Marty discuss the concept of Motivation 3.0 (“Type I motivation”) as outlined in Daniel Pink’s bestselling book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. They examine what Pink considers the three primary intrinsic motivators of the 21st century workplace, and they share their stories about how leaders can use this information to better engage employees:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink.

Podcast episode 006: The Impact Motive

Podcast episode 008: How to Become an Interactive Leader

Video: Are You a Dictator or a Team Captain?

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Your Feedback

If you like our show, please rate us on iTunes. That makes a huge difference in helping more people discover it. We love to know your thoughts about this episode. Please submit your comments below! You can also email comments to Jesse at [email protected], subscribe to him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.