An Interview with Afa Dworkin
Daniel Bernard Roumain

I take great interest in the art of human connection and this energy that draws us all toward one another, and in the same capacity pulls us away. I believe the root of who we all are as humans is our innate tendency to feel and empathize with those around us. In a way, as humans, we rely on and desperately need a sense of connection and meaning.

Leadership is so much about bringing people together and creating a space that, like Allison Porterfield said during our discussion in class, “channels the energy of others.” Humans want to feel a sense of belonging and purpose, and the only way this feeling can be achieved through leadership is by empathizing or connecting on an emotional level. In The Dance of Leadership, the authors state, “only when people are ‘moved’ emotionally will they begin to ‘move’ psychologically and physically (Denhardt and Denhardt, pg 18).” When you take interest in those around you and establish a sense of openness, you create a space in which they feel safe to express themselves and that is when energy ignites.

In other words, as leaders, we must act as “catalysts” or as Afa Dworkin said, “agents for change.” The most powerful of movements throughout our history happened because of a leader’s ability to energize and mobilize people to their cause. And the best way to achieve this is you “must touch not only the ‘head’ but also the ‘heart’” of those you are attempting to lead (Denhardt and Denhardt, pg 20). And we must do this through genuine human connection via empathy and understanding.

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