Let Go & Lead
Patricia Harrison President & CEO
Corporation for Public Broadcasting

On What it Means to Let Go and Lead (2:18)

MARIL MACDONALD:
So Pat, what separates great leaders from others in terms of engaging a community?

PATRICIA HARRISON:
I think confidence.  I think you have to be confident to have the confidence to listen to things you don’t want to hear.  You can’t just, uh, anticipate or program dialogue so you may hear things you don’t like and it’s how you react to those things that can help shape you to be a better leader.  So you may get criticism, or you may be told you’re not doing something in the right way within a community, or the general manager who’s trying to connect with community.  Might, might have to go through a rough patch because you don’t have these meetings and suddenly it’s, you know, eureka, and now we’re all together.  It can be painful if you’re having real conversations.

We are doing, uh, with some help from The Gates Foundation in our American Graduate Initiative of focus through public media to help kids stay on the path to a high school diploma.  One million young people kicked to the curb.  All that talent our country is losing.  So through these Teacher Town Hall meetings we’re hearing from teachers who are I call them, they’re on the front line of the battle.  Not, not the environment —

MARIL MACDONALD:
Yeah.

PATRICIA HARRISON:
— in which we went to school.  This is rough stuff.

MARIL MACDONALD:
Yeah.

PATRICIA HARRISON:
So much so that they should get the, the red badge of courage for just showing up.

Listening to them is not easy and one can say well, I don’t want to hear this, but they’re telling us the truth about a part of our community we need to look at if we’re going to affect change and that’s the first step.  You have to be willing to listen and not interrupt, and give that person the respect for their space and their point of view.