[nfbmi-talk] Leadership & Empowerment Revisited

Lydia Anne Schuck lydia.a.schuck at wmich.edu
Fri Dec 5 13:09:11 UTC 2014

Larry K., As usual, you captured important thoughts in your email.  I liked getting to know some people from other chapters, and I was impressed with how hard everyone worked to come to action steps.  I am sure there are many topics that were not assigned to a committee, but we did what we could.  However, there is nothing stopping folks from joining together around other goals and taking action.


----- Original Message -----
From: Larry D Keeler via nfbmi-talk <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
To: J.J. Meddaugh <jj at bestmidi.com>, NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Thu, 04 Dec 2014 18:26:24 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Leadership & Empowerment Revisited

Well, i for one learned a lot at the leadership seminar! Not only during the 
actual seminar but also during the free time we had. I learned for example 
that leadership involves more than just learning the issues but also 
learning about the folks who you want to be working with. Bonding with folks 
is almost as important as knowing the issues.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "J.J. Meddaugh via nfbmi-talk" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
To: <terrydeagle at yahoo.com>; "NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List" 
<nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2014 6:04 PM
Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Leadership & Empowerment Revisited

> Terry,
> I'm a bit curious on your comment regarding the leadership seminar and 
> would be interested in your ideas for how you would improve such an event 
> if it were to be held again.
> There was surveys prior to the weekend to gauge the interest of all who 
> attended in various topics, so Lydia and Fred could decide what to cover.
> I felt like everyone in attendance, whether on the board or not, was given 
> opportunity to speak and influence the events that happened. That's not to 
> say everyone felt that way. If if there are things that can be done to 
> improve, let's talk about them.
> Just off the top of my head, as a result of the weekend: the guide dog 
> committee has made progress on updating state law, there has been several 
> planning meetings for a potential employment weekend, Larry has started a 
> monthly Email message to chapters, and many more.
> I'm sure this won't be the last leadership event, so let's talk about how 
> to make the next one better.
> Best regards,
> J.J.
> On 12/4/2014 9:37 AM, Terry D. Eagle via nfbmi-talk wrote:
>> Given the tone and judgment of some on this list in the past day, I offer
>> and revisit the May 8 post by Terri Wilcox.  Justin's final paragraph 
>> says
>> all that needs to be said.
>> Too bad and how sad this was not the focus, theme, and content  of the
>> leadership seminar held in September, rather than an agenda and event 
>> that
>> took on an atmosphere and result of division, disempowerment and
>> discouragement of valuable members without a title, and who have a 
>> genuine
>> dedication to the NFB philosophy and mission.
>>  From Terri Wilcox:
>> "     I was just reading an article from the April Braille Monitor. I
>> thought it was excellent and so I am posting it to the list. Have fun
>> reading it. I thought it was really neat how Justin Salisbury thought
>> through Dr. Maurer's Banquet address from last year and applied it to his
>> field of study. He shows how each of us using power can help empower 
>> others
>> in our Affiliate. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I 
>> id."  --Terri
>> Wilcox
>> Braille Monitor                                              April 2014
>> Economics of Leadership: Is Power Rival?
>> by Justin Salisbury
>>  From the Editor: Justin Salisbury is a doctoral student in Agricultural 
>> and
>> Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from
>> Connecticut, he earned his bachelor's degree at East Carolina University 
>> and
>> then attended the Louisiana Center for the Blind. He has been active in 
>> our
>> movement everywhere he has lived. Here's what Justin has to say:
>> Justin SalisburyThe science of economics is the allocation of scarce
>> resources to achieve maximum well-being. All finite resources, including 
>> air
>> and sunlight, are considered scarce. One characteristic in economics 
>> which
>> helps define the type of good is whether or not the good is rival. If a 
>> good
>> is rival, one person's consumption of it restricts another person's 
>> ability
>> to consume it. For example, if I buy an NFB of New Jersey Whozit necktie,
>> there is one fewer Whozit necktie available for you to buy. If I eat a
>> banana, that banana is gone, and it is most unlikely that anyone else 
>> will
>> ever be able to eat it.
>> At the banquet of the 2013 National Federation of the Blind Convention,
>> President Marc Maurer said, "One misunderstanding about the nature of 
>> power
>> is that this commodity is finite, limited in quantity, and shared only by
>> the fortunate few. To get power it is (according to some) necessary to 
>> seize
>> it from the hands of others."
>> Someone with this misguided philosophy views power as rival. Such a 
>> person
>> would say that, if I exercise power, there is less power available for 
>> you
>> or your neighbor to exercise. If I exercise power, someone who views 
>> power
>> as rival would view me as a threat to her own power.
>> In the National Federation of the Blind, we work together to enhance each
>> other's ability to exercise power and thus empower each other. Whenever I
>> read an article or hear a speech delivered by another Federation leader, 
>> I
>> am learning how to do better work myself. When Trevor Attenberg writes a
>> brilliant letter, I get out my dictionary and absorb a masterly 
>> articulation
>> of the capacity of blind people, or a new approach to conflict 
>> resolution. I
>> can then use those techniques to enhance my power, and Trevor's exercise 
>> of
>> power actually adds to mine. It does not subtract from it. This 
>> experience
>> provides a counterexample and argues that power is non-rival.
>> I now serve as legislative coordinator and first vice president of the
>> National Federation of the Blind of Wisconsin (NFBW) and president of our
>> Dane County Chapter. NFBW President John Fritz always supports and
>> encourages my efforts. His support and encouragement empower me further, 
>> and
>> any power that I have adds to the power of our affiliate. As our 
>> affiliate
>> grows more powerful, the power of each affiliate member in turn 
>> increases.
>> When we empower each other, we empower ourselves, too.
>> By contrast, someone who views power as rival might think he has an
>> incentive to try to undercut and undermine the potential for power in 
>> anyone
>> else who might exercise it. Such a person could try to break apart every
>> other power structure in his/her affiliate in order to keep all of the 
>> power
>> around him/herself. Such a person would weaken the organization and
>> therefore weaken him/herself.
>> Though power is not rival, titles frequently are. There is only one
>> president of the Connecticut Association of Blind Students (CTABS). As 
>> long
>> as I am CTABS President, nobody else can also be CTABS President.
>> There is often a view that power intrinsically lies within titles. Some
>> believe that a president is powerful, at least in part, because she is
>> president. She has acquired the rival title of president and is thus
>> powerful. If this were true, then it would also mean that people without
>> titles automatically have less power. If we accept this idea, then we are
>> disempowering ourselves so long as we do not hold the top title in the
>> organization in question. The less power we have, the less power the
>> organization has, the less effective the organization will be, and the 
>> less
>> power each member has. If we disempower ourselves, we disempower our
>> presidents, executive directors, and the like.
>> If we want our movement to be powerful, we need to recognize that we all
>> have power as individuals and that power is non-rival. A transformational
>> leader is an agent of change, so every Federationist is a 
>> transformational
>> leader. A leader is powerful to the degree that he empowers others, so we
>> must empower each other, titles or not, to achieve equality, opportunity,
>> and security for the blind.
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