The core principles of TCL have been defined and named to guide efforts to transform the material conditions of the poor and ensure rights of the marginalized and oppressed. We are living in an era when those conditions and rights are under growing threat from various quarters. The methods developed by past leaders in the rights and aid and development sectors are under attack by governments and institutions that moving away from multilateralism, pluralism, and social safety nets. The global poor are going to be collateral damage to populist movements, and social needs will be increasingly unmet.
To address this head on, we need to shift entire systems, and we have to respond to changes in the conditions we face. Confronting shifts in their environment, leaders who catalyze transformational change are called upon to have patience and a long-term view, engage in constant learning, and look back to their communities’ histories while still cultivating presence. They also have to be agile and grounded in principles of innovation, systems, and the future. This is a great deal to ask of leaders, even though the ones we have profiled are most often the ones who have demonstrated they can both survive the wicked systems and power asymmetries at play, and learn how to navigate their communities to a better state despite the odds stacked against them. Current infrastructures of support therefore need to evolve, as well.
In our Introduction section, we state “this resource is a blueprint for collective leadership.” It is not, however, a blueprint for the future. On our individual story pages, we have included sections called “Moving Forward,” that give us a sense of how current leaders may possibly navigate our uncertain future in their particular contexts – or how their legacy will inspire other leaders to carve out future paths for change. But we can’t predict what the future will be or what leaders will do. Rather, we present a menu of ideas, experiences, and networks that together can help individuals and institutions to make better choices within such confusing times as the present.
As we move forward ourselves, and start to think about how the TCL project will itself evolve into its next form, we will highlight discourse on our social media feeds (here and here) about how leaders will confront our deepest future challenges.