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MULTI-GENERATIONAL Leadership Qualities: The Power of Thinking Together

These are difficult times for leaders at every level in government, business and society across the world. We are all reinventing our visions of the future as we work to forge the new paths in an environment of crisis, challenge, and opportunity. We are also in need of re-evaluating everything about how we think, operate, and behave as leaders in this new age. We need to be skilled in many things, particularly the human dimensions of leadership. Why? These will be the differentiators that make it possible to efficiently and effectively lead distributed, diverse, multi-generational teams in a global economy.

The power of leaders gathering across time, distance, difference, and culture
What happens when a group of leaders gather by-chance across time, distance, difference, and culture to think together about what’s needed most in our leaders? Every time I have a chance to find out, I’m amazed to discover that the experience is nothing less than REMARKABLE. It’s not just about the discussion itself. It’s about who and why people show up and the willingness they demonstrate in sharing from their experience, observations, and intellect. Most of all, I find it moving to see just how much can be accomplished in a very short time when we work in collaboration — and technology and social networking tools continue to broaden the possibilities for us all.The remarkable part is exemplified in the notably richer quality of the RESULTS ACHIEVED — it proves once again that what we can do together is far greater than one person could accomplish alone in the same period.

Recently, I had one of these remarkable experiences in a virtual meet-up with seven accomplished leaders on a social network site in an online discussion. I put this question up for discussion:

What LEADERSHIP QUALITIES do YOU think are most needed today to manage the HUMAN DIMENSION of change in a multi-generational, diverse, global workforce?

This graphic depicts a partial summary of the LEADERSHIP qualities, values, intentions, and behaviors we identified, as well as, some of the descriptors of the nature of the environment these qualities would create. What stood out was that each contributor looked at the question from a unique vantage point. We all saw something different. We passed on wisdom from experience, study, and respected mentors and teachers. Each insight added an idea that enhanced the rest or served to draw together the concepts that emerged to paint a vivid picture of this badly needed leader. This was all done in brief independent visits and without seeing each other or hearing a voice. One of the contributors described our discussion this way.

“Collaborative learning is exactly what has happened here, in this discussion thread, some raised a question and a group of people contributed in a reciprocal way.”

During the discussion, although we expressed it using different words, we all described a leader with human qualities and a high regard for others —- a “servant leadership”nature. Names like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were mentioned. Interestingly, over 50 years ago, at a time of great change and turmoil, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about facing the challenge of a new era. His message is profound in how much it is a calling whispering to us today — calling us to be part of a new generation of leadership that masters putting our differences to work through our thinking, actions, and behavior in public and when no one is watching — to work to more consciously consider the human dimension of our leadership responsibility and what it asks of us personally. He said…

Facing the Challenge of a New Age (excerpt circa 1956 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) “Those of us who live in the twenty-first century are privileged to live in one of the most momentous periods of human history. It is an exciting age filled with hope. It is an age in which a new social order is being born. We stand today between two worlds—the dying old and the emerging new. …another thing that we must do in speeding up the coming of the new age is to develop intelligent, courageous and dedicated leadership. This is one of the pressing needs of the hour. In this period of transition and growing social change, there is a dire need for leaders who calm and yet positive leaders who avoid the extremes of “hot-headedness”… The urgency of the hour calls for:

* leaders of wise judgment and sound integrity
* leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice;
* leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity;
* leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause.”
[Image: “Young Martin” oil painting by Sally K. Green]

What other ideas do you have to add to help us all improve our human qualities to better lead in business and society more effectively?

In what ways do you see these qualities reflected in what goes here at govloop?

Look for to hearing from you…


Debbe Kennedy
founder, Global Dialogue Center/LSCompanies
author, Putting Our Differences to Work:
The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership and High Performance

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