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Dave Ursillo is an alternative leadership author and speaker. He was previously a “politico” insider from Rhode Island whose experiences ranged to the White House before abandoning his career path to pursue writing. Dave teaches men and women how to become “leaders without followers” in any walk of life by discovering a personal and profound sense of inner leadership.
In September 2011, Dave published his debut nonfiction, Lead Without Followers: How to Save Our World by Radically Redefining the Meaning of Leadership. His blog, DaveUrsillo.com, has reached over 65,000 readers from 173 countries. In addition to writing, he travels the country to spread the word about his experiences and share his alternative leadership message.
MO: You have an extremely interesting background that I’m sure our readers would love to hear. Can you tell us a little about what got you to this point?
Dave: What began in my youth as being told by teachers that I exemplified leadership qualities suddenly dawned into a compelling urge to make a positive difference in the world at the age of 15 when September 11, 2001 occurred. After 9/11, I felt more driven than ever to help our world in some way. That urge pushed me to explore a variety of possible career paths and outlets that I thought might be the best fit for my natural inner drive as a leader.
Over the next years, I delved into student leadership and journalism, military leadership and a mix of state and federal government experiences. The highlight of my young career in public service spanned an internship at the White House Council on Environmental Quality in 2008 and as a “body man” to a state gubernatorial candidate in 2009.
MO: Can you expand on the idea of “leaders without followers”?
Dave: There is a dangerous problem with our collective perception today of what it means to be a leader. We have a deeply entwined, indisputable understanding that leaders need followers in order to lead. It’s as if this relationship between leaders and followers is a law of physics that can’t be bent or broken.
But in spite of this common societal perception—a cultural meme, or an understanding that we all grow up innately understanding as members of this society—we all naturally recognize that leadership is a matter of will and ability. Leadership comes from within. And to only qualify “real” leadership based upon job title, social status, number of followers is a pretty shallow way to quantify a human being’s ability to love, give, share, and inspire—the true qualities of leadership.
MO: What can readers expect to learn from your new book?
Dave: The leadership that lasts the longest embodies a quiet, humble form. It is felt more than it is heard. To lead without followers is to choose to live this life in such a way that others feel it and reap it just as much as you do. This form of leadership is rooted in love, selfless giving, compassion, gratitude—they strengthen your spirit, embolden your passions, and guide you towards genuine happiness in this life.
MO: What did working for five government offices teach you that you have implemented into your teachings?
Dave: For all of my experiences in positions of leadership in high school and college, and throughout all of the internships and jobs in federal and state government, I learned quite a bit about leadership. But what I learned was less about how we traditionally think of leadership today, and far more about what it really means to be a leader: being the most human that you possibly can be.
Leadership is a human quality that consists of intrinsically good and positive human traits. Leadership is both about helping others and bettering yourself—the two are indisputably entwined.
MO: Why are you so passionate about traveling the country and speaking your message?
Dave: Life is really all about human beings sharing human experiences among one another. As a writer, I like to think about ideas, behaviors and big-picture topics. But what good are they if they aren’t shared with people? I love openly sharing and discussing the ideas that I’m passionate about with people, face-to-face. Teaching others is not only incredibly rewarding, but I learn just as much (if not more!) from them.
MO: If you could offer one single tip to future leaders what would it be?
Dave: Remember that to lead is to be the most human that you possibly can be; that leadership comes from within you, and not from what things and sums you attain.
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