Several years ago, when I was reading Sheryl Sanberg’s book, “Lean In”, I saw a reference to one of Sheryl’s favorite books, “Might Be Our Powers” by Leymah Gwobee. I picked up that book right after I finished “Lean In”. It is a powerful story of Leymah’s work as a peace activist responsible for leading a women’s peace movement, Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Her efforts to end the war, along with her collaborator Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, helped usher in a period of peace and enabled a free election in 2005 that Sirleaf won. She, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
Leymah’s work and determination are an amazing and unfortunately brutal story of an important peace movement; she is a strong person who was willing to always go way beyond what most of us could imagine. One of the quotes that is attributed to Leymah is:
“The one thing I have never been afraid of is standing before important people and speaking my mind. I represent women who may never have the opportunity to go to the UN or meet with a president. I’m never afraid to speak truth to power.”
Although the context was diametrically opposed to what we face every day in our work/business lives, the message still holds for us…we have to be willing and free to speak our minds and to say what is right. At the end of the day, most authentic and grounded leaders want the truth, not something short of that.