As a man, I have that traditional expectation in society to be a leader. To be the head of the home, to have a developing career or better still be an entrepreneur, to be seen as an upstanding member of my community, to uphold certain values, to lead by example and to take charge of situations where some form of strength may be expected.
Leadership is such a vast topic I don’t know where it begins and where it ends.
It can be a little overwhelming to meet the vast array of expected standards. In trying to better understand it, I have read many quotes on leadership. One in particular which left an impact was one where leadership was described as the ability to bring sides together. Those of you who have attended one of our Wired to Influence programmes will know that this is something worth doing as many business and teams struggle with the concept of unity.
Bringing sides together sounds so simple and it should be while at the same time it can be extremely difficult to achieve, especially when the reasons for divides are deep rooted.
One such divide I come across all the time are the divides caused through date of birth and the resulting labels we choose to box people into. Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generation X, Traditionalists and Silent Generation all apparently say something about and explain us.
My first concern with labels is that they, by their very nature, create a divide. Why we spend so much time and effort creating them beats me, especially when once we have created them we have to spend so much effort breaking them down.
Then there is the role of the exception.
When there is an exception, the rule no longer applies. I have met many young people, as an example, that do not conform with the Millennial characteristics. Treating everyone as an individual would be far more effective than this radical need to box.
What if you box someone due to a conditioned box while you have one of the exceptions in front of you?
Another concern I have is where one party has to develop understanding as opposed to fostering a culture of mutual understanding. As an example, I have noticed with the Millennial debates in business is how much time is spent on business leaders understanding the idea of a Millennial. What I do not see though are groups of so called Millennials getting together to understand the idea of Baby Boomers or Traditionalists. Remembering the idea of bringing sides together, when one party in the disconnect is required to do all the understanding and developing of tolerance the process can be less effective and efficient.
If all people can simply learn two things in life – that there is no wrong or right time to have been born, there is only ‘different’ – and the time and date of one’s birth should not be used to limit fellow humans to a box. (Business leaders do love books though and are always turning to the next book for the holy grail – maybe the authors know that by creating another box they sell more books.)
If an aspect of successful leadership involves bringing sides together then I imagine that work needs to be done on both sides – developing tolerance through understanding and developing the ability to be understood.
Such leadership ability is therefore required by anybody needing to achieve any goal where unity is required in order to achieve the desired goal. By a young school leaver looking for a job opportunity, by a Financial Director responsible for integrating a recent business acquisition, by a teacher settling in a new learner, a parent introducing a new baby into the family … and now by me uniting:
- The need for awareness and funds into Prostrate Cancer research and the people who may be in the position to donate.
- To bring together any fellow male suffering from challenges they feel too big to cope with and the means to find critical support.
- The ability to offer support to fellow men in need of strong emotional support and the ability to spot such a need.
As U2 put it – “we are one but we are not the same”
Please unite behind me as I unite in this amazing initiative with thousands of other people dealing with the struggles of life who happen to all share the zeal for biking and looking dapper from time to time.
By Louis Gerke
Development Facilitator – The Ripple Effect
If this post interests you please feel free to share it: