Thank you Sangeeth for inviting me to be a guest blogger at LeadCap.org. It is clear that we have much in common and share in bold and positive visions for leadership 2.0! I’m very pleased to now be involved with the important work of LeadCap.
In his most recent blog at Forbes.com Sangeeth talked about “the magic potion of hard power mixed with soft emotion” and gives examples of what perhaps can best be described as PDHs (public displays of humanity) by American presidents…He received mix reactions to this post but it resonated very much with my own work. One of the reasons for the mixed emotions is the underlying worldview of the readers.
My comments to Sangeeth’s blog:
I really like this post and it resonates so well with my own work and research too. It seems on balance that people who appreciate that other-centredness, relationships and ’soft’ skills are so important now are the same people who have a worldview that is relevant for the knowledge era. Those who do not are generally deriving their values and worldview from the archaic industrial era.
One of the reasons I’m calling my work and research ‘leadership literacies’ is because I’ve come to realize that language (and in particular metaphors) is an important way to surface people’s underlying (and often unexamined) values. I also think that some translation is needed between the two worldviews, just as much as translation between foreign languages. Your example is a great case in point in that the gestures you have described by these two Presidents could be construed as ‘weak’ or ’strong’ depending on the underlying worldview.
Perhaps this is our role–that of translators between the two worldviews. I am not in favor of oppositional language because I don’t think the planet has the luxury of waiting, we need to be bringing together these worldviews and all be working together on the bigger issues.
I’ve written about oppositional language etc in a paper I’m giving at the Thinking Conference in Malaysia in June. The last para of the conclusion is relevant to your post:
It was also argued that oppositional language and the pitting of one deeply held worldview against another will not lead to resolving the underlying problems of the world or the workplace. Rather, space for conversations to surface underlying assumptions is required in order to find ways of integrating our economic and social systems in every layer of society, including the workplace. Perkins’s language of peace metaphor confirms that that there are always other lenses to view the world through, not just the one that hegemony prefers and privileges.
Since responding to Sangeeth’s blog another example where translation between worldviews may be required was given by Katherine Bell recently in her HBR blog about empathy (see Empathy: not such a soft skill). Again, depending on your worldview empathy, like many of the ’soft’ skills, may be seen as ‘weak’ to some and ’strong’ to others.
Centre for Leadership Excellence, Australia