New Book Explores the Making of a Humanitarian Leader

How do seemingly ordinary people become the kind of leaders who have a meaningful and often lasting impact on the lives of those in need?

Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson studied 31 humanitarian leaders from a range of nations, cultures, and generations and discovered that they followed a very similar path.  The authors share their insights and the stories of these remarkable people in a new book, The Humanitarian Leader in Each of Us: 7 Choices That Shape a Socially Responsible Life.

Based on five years of research, LaFasto and Larson trace a path of seven pivotal choices. The authors identified such choices as experiencing “a sense of fairness,” “believing we can matter,” and having a “predisposition to respond” as key to becoming the kind of leader who takes charge of making a positive difference in the lives of others.

The authors also discovered that one key choice is counterintuitive. Although people are often told to think big, the leaders in this study began their efforts by taking small steps, often without a clear sense of where those steps would lead.

Among the 31 people LaFasto and Larson studied were:  Susie Scott Krabacher, a former Playboy centerfold who has devoted her life to helping women and children in the desperate slums of Haiti; Ryan Hreljac, who at age 6 launched an organization to build wells in countries where water is scarce; Larry Bradley, a U.S. army major in Iraq who mobilized an international effort to save the life of one local boy;  Bill Sergeant, who led Rotary International’s campaign to eradicate polio from the face of the earth; and Inderjit Khurana, a teacher in India who founded a string of train platform schools to educate impoverished street children.

In this important book, LaFasto and Larson expand the domain of leadership. They make a persuasive case that anyone with the motivation, energy, and perseverance can take charge of making a difference in society.

Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson co-authored two other best-selling books:  TeamWork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong (SAGE, 1989) and When Teams Work Best: 6,000 Team Members and Leaders Tell What It Takes to Succeed (SAGE, 2001).

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