The strength of a good leader does not come from being right all the time: it comes from being humble enough to know when you are wrong. It comes from being fair enough to hear the views of others and to respond in a considered way. It comes as much from admitting what you don’t know or are still figuring out as it does from showing off those things that you have already mastered. It comes from #WorkingOutLoud as you find your way. It comes from being fair, not just in words, but in deeds. Social Leadership puts the success and effectiveness of others first: investing in our communities, in relationships, with no expectation of reciprocity in the moment.
In a global environment, we are separated by more than just our geography: we are separated by our ideas of what’s right, what’s fair, what’s ethically sound and morally correct. What counts as ‘fair‘ for me may not be so for you. What’s legal for me is forbidden for you. What’s morally right for me is morally wrong for you. But we are both good people, in our own framework. And in this global space, both notions of ‘fair‘ are equally valid.
Separated by geography, united by technology, we remain divided by culture, ethics, law and morality.
But there is an upside: we can be united by respect, by common purpose and engagement around a celebration of that very diversity. We are united by humility, respect, tolerance and diversity. Even if we don’t change our own culture, we can still celebrate that of others.
Is it a type of imperfect humanity that strives for unity built on a diverse foundation, that settles for difference but is united by respect? Is it a second class type of fairness? Is pragmatism the death of idealism, or just an engaged conversation over time that may align us more closely?
These are the challenges for the global business and the Social Age leader: we must lead in this space, we must learn to navigate it and do so transparently.
People often talk to me about generational differences, about digital natives, about GEN X, Y and Z. But they are missing the point: if you are worried about the risk of dispossession, look no further than your own conference line.
Is there a type of unified humanity, that strives for overarching intent? Can we find humanity in shared purpose? And if not, where does that leave us? Destined to be unfair, to lack conscience? Because if we are only leading through ignorance, because we have not considered how to do it right, then we are just as guilty of unfairness as those who seek to harm. Because ignorance is no plea bargain when it comes to Leadership. It’s the duty of the humble leader to think, to reflect, to challenge themselves to tackle these questions, and to think out loud as they do. Without the conversation, how can we find what’s fair?
Today, Barak Obama used a word to describe the racial tensions in America that i would never use: but was he right to do that, to stimulate debate, to open up the conversation. He was, after all, just naming the thing. That there is injustice, deeply held, deeply rooted. Perhaps it’s a position of strong Social Leadership to be unafraid to open the conversation up, rather than step around it and leave it to fester.