I was saddened to hear of the passing of the legendary folk singer, Pete Seeger. I had many opportunities to see Pete Seeger, most often at rallies for social causes. Throughout the years, I have considered him to be an effective and impactful leader. Although we often don’t think of individuals who support social causes as “leaders,” it is exactly this type of “small leadership” that we need.

To quote Pete, “Be wary of great leaders. Hope that there are many small leaders.” Leadership does not reside in top-level leaders, but is a shared process of many “small” (and large) leaders working together with empowered followers to get things done. Through his music and social activism, this “small” leader had a big impact.

Character is a critical element in effective leadership, and the courage to stand up for your convictions, and to stand up for the less fortunate, are important aspects of leadership. I believe that Pete Seeger had that element of leader character.

Here are some quotes from him that have important leadership lessons:

“It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.”

“Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is what you get when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.”

“Being generous of spirit is a wonderful way to live.”

“I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life.”

Rest in peace, Pete.

Recent Posts in Cutting-Edge Leadership

Is Birth Order a Myth?

A closer look at what the research actually tells us.

The 4 Styles of Humor

What do you find funny? How do you use humor?

8 Ways a Teacher Is Like a Leader

What are the parallels between teaching and leading?

4 Ways to Boost Your Charisma

There are 6 core elements and you can develop every one.

5 Epic April Fool’s Pranks and the Psychology Behind Them

The psychology of why we fall for pranks

The 4 Pillars of Great Leadership

Research has shown these to be the keys to leader success.