”Revolutionary Leadership.”

Joe Louis Clark is best known for his revolutionary leadership as the principal of Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ, one of the toughest inner city schools in America during the 80s. He is also the subject of the 1989 movie, Lean on Me, starring Morgan Freeman.

Clark gained attention for his unconventional and controversial disciplinary measures. He received both praise and criticism as most strong leaders do. Joe Clark was able to do what his predecessors could not. Restore and maintain order without abandoning the students who needed his revolutionary leadership the most.

All great leaders are revolutionaries. They constantly challenge the status quo by asking, “Are we doing the right things to advance the vision? If so, can we do more and do them better?” More importantly, when they spot something that needs to be changed, they inspire the team to change it!

Revolutionary leaders are good at two things. First, they define current reality on a daily basis, not periodically. Second, they take action by mobilizing appropriate team responses. This is harder than most average leaders are willing to undertake.

That’s why former giants, Sears and JC Penney are in deep trouble today while Walmart is breaking every retailing record they have set for decades. Why? They had managers posing as leaders who either were afraid of significant change or could not inspire the team.

Executing change is not for weak, inexperienced or intimidated leaders. It requires inspiring your team to rise above conventional wisdom, weed out the resisters and stop the superfluous work that takes time but accomplishes little. Why double the effort in what’s not working?

Revolutionaries are not rebels but crusaders for change. They value people, win their support and give them hope for the future. With this newly energized team, they use every available means to make the critical changes necessary for accomplishing the mission, regardless of the cost.

For what cause are you willing to be a revolutionary?