Margaret Hamilton wasn’t supposed to invent the modern concept of software and land men on the moon. It was 1960, not a time when women were encouraged to seek out high-powered technical work. Hamilton, a 24-year-old with an undergrad degree in mathematics, had gotten a job as a programmer at MIT, and the plan was for her to support her husband through his three-year stint at Harvard Law. After that, it would be her turn—she wanted a graduate degree in math.
But the Apollo space program came along. And Hamilton stayed in the lab to lead an epic feat of engineering that would help change the future of what was humanly—and digitally—possible.
George Gallup was the inventor of market research and the universally admired founder of The Gallup Poll at Princeton.
In The Miracle Ahead (Harper & Row NY 1964) from his long experience in measuring public opinion–before, during and after political elections–Dr Gallup wrote about why leaders generally have an in-built logical reluctance towards change:
“Change cannot be brought about easily by leaders, except in those situations in which the changes advocated do not disturb the present relationships. In fact, it is the leaders who typically become the most bitter and the most effective foes of change.
The public must take the initiative and assume responsibility for progress in the affairs of man. The public must force change upon its leaders who command more respect today than perhaps they deserve. The leader is expert in his or her small world as it presently exists, not expert in the world as it might exist.
Although the leader plays an important part in modern society, it is not realistic to expect him or her to advocate change. This is the surest way for that leader to lose his or her status. The hope of the future rests with the citizen also known as, the customer.
To be effective the citizen/customer must be well-informed, and she or he must discover better ways of making better use of her own great capacities and those of her friends. Citizens or customers cannot expect their leaders to give them much help in their upward march”.
QUESTION: In your own experience, as you look around at the leaders your life, do you find many agents of change or are most simply protectors of the status quo? Post your comment.