Leadership without Fear
The entire Western and Corporate worlds have and are evolving into new methodological contexts – with raised expectations of transparency, participation, collaboration and recognition of the inherent value of the individual as part and parcel of membership, stakeholder or workforce in Association, Organization or Business. It’s not just TDM (those darn millennials) anymore.
First, though, perhaps we might address this term, “Millennial.”
Now might be the time to drop this word from our lexicon as the pejorative term it has become. No longer really applicable to a specific, definable age-demographic; if anything, Millennial is a point of view, a way of seeing things, a combination of aspiration, inquisitiveness, a sense of one’s value (and perhaps a smidgeon of entitlement, here and there) that pervades vast segments of society and culture…largely irrelevant anymore to age or “generation” and more broadly so to exponentially greater segments of the professional workforce who plan on remaining in that workforce for some time to come.
Thus, it behooves those in leadership positions to embrace the r/evolution and factor consciousness of these perspectives into management and leadership techniques and styles that resonate and function effectively in the new world.
What does that mean? Primarily: it means Listening
In broad terms what this means is that the aged model of top-down leadership is dying on the vine of ineffectiveness. Executives and boards (especially of non-profits and more and more of corporations: witness the Google walkouts of last week) can no longer expect membership or staff and workforce to accept what is decided in the privacy of boardroom/backroom and “executive sessions” as The Right Thing.
People who have been immersed in transparency and full availability of information for the greater part of their lives are not willing to accept the traditional dictum and edict model anymore. Those affected by decisions expect to see and know the etymology of said decisions and policies; to see, participate in, appreciate and embrace the path by which these were reached. Even with final decisions to which they may not be fully in agreement, people are far more likely to support the result if they’ve been a respected part of the process by which it was created.
Not only do they want to “see the research,” they expect to be a part of that research; to have had a voice in the outreach for and collection of data, of the factors that inform decision-making relevant to themselves, their work, their support of the institution.
Therefore it falls to Conscious Leadership to embrace this dynamic and include the membership or workforce body in the process such that they actually feel and know that inclusion.
Especially in a non-profit, the leader or leadership body are no longer the de facto Decision Makers; rather they are the Decision Managers, the Decision Shepherds; with inherent responsibility to hear from all sectors, appreciate all points of view, include far larger numbers in foundation-laying exploration as policies and procedures are developed and devised…before said policies and procedures, codes and parameters are announced or implemented.
And the Body must sense having been heard before acceptance of any policies coming out of the Executive Suite can be expected.
It has long been embraced by leaders in the microcosm of short-term projects and programs in the creative industries (and some of the major, grassroots NGO’s) that the best leaders and directors listen to and hear (and hear-out) the members of their teams as courses, standards and policies are explored, mapped and decided. The fact is that this has now become a requirement of the macro.
Boards and leaders who believe that they know what is best for an organization without practical inclusion of the member-stakeholders of that organization in the process are deluding themselves and short-changing the organization. Paternalism rears its outdated head.
Members want a voice; an actual voice, and an effective forum for that voice.
It is a virtual truism that the strongest, most effective leaders do not believe that it is incumbent on them to have the answers.
No, a good leader knows the path to the answer, where s/he might go to find the answer, how to explore for the answer and – above all – that leader is always willing to discover that s/he might not yet have arrived at the answer at any given moment.
One needn’t be Right to get to the Right Answer…or any of the possible Right Answers.
The acceptance of that possibility – the management of membership bodies grounded in the acceptance of that philosophy – is what will empower the most effective leaders now and into the next decades.
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