Emerging Leaders poised to set course against same old, same old: by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.

Recent shenanigans to sneak more money for racetracks into the casino gambling bill (about to go to) the Governor’s desk are yet another reminder of the self-interest of many leaders on Beacon Hill. The problem isn’t just political wheeling and dealing however. For generations in this tight city, insiders in various institutions , from finance to the arts, have held hold power very close and have failed to reach out to develop new generations of leadership.

But the times demand such new leadership, leadership that is open, diverse, collaborative and able to shape the global arena. Developing that leadership can’t be left to chance. One of the first to recognize that was former UMass Boston Chancellor Sherry Penney, who had also been interim president of the University of Massachusetts system.  A prominent figure in the Greater Boston community and player in international leadership circles, Penney proposed a Center for Collaborative Leadership at the UMass Boston College of Management and persuaded then-State Street CEO Marsh Carter of its merits. He promptly gave her a quarter of a million dollars to start the effort. Carter, now head of the New York Stock Exchange, was in Boston recently, and the two, along with State Street Corporation’s George Russell, were honored for their contributions to the development of leadership in our community.

Thanks to their activities over the past decade, we now have a cohort of 400 young leaders from every sector, corporate, government and nonprofit. Forty percent are people of color, and over half are women. (Compare that with the 11 percent of women who now sit on the boards of the Globe 100 companies.) One of the Emerging Leaders fellows has been named CEO of a major unit of Sovereign Bank. Another heads Citibank’s efforts in Boston. A physician is head of public health for Massachusetts. Two fellows are heads of nonprofits. Many have been recognized by the Boston Business Journal in its “Forty under Forty” list. There are many other success stories.

We’re going to need every one of these young leaders. You don’t have to look far to see how so many of the current generation in power is messing up, one of the reasons that spawned the Occupy Boston movement. Unfortunately, the Occupy movements, beyond slogans and a diffuse agenda, lacks pragmatic focus. It has yet to move from unbridled passion to a practical agenda and concerted action. It has even generated some health and safety problems. Regrettably, they lack the discipline of The Tea Party, which, for better or worse, has made itself a force to be reckoned with inside the political process.
It’s time for the next cohort of leaders, the Emerging Leaders fellows, to step up and, working within the system, offer strategies to make our society more just. Those of us who are a little long in the tooth need to create some breathing room and let these young leaders show what they can do. That will be a significant living legacy for the likes of Sherry Penney, Marsh Carter, George Russell, and others who have invested so much in training the next generation of leaders.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.