What does leadership need to embrace, or more specifically, how does it need to evolve, to move forward in this heightened time of chaos, conflict and fear? I have been reflecting on this as I observe the ‘goings on’ in our beautiful country, Aotearoa – New Zealand.
It’s fair to say there is some really questionable leadership being shown at national and local levels alike. When I consider the potential motivations and framework in which decisions are being undertaken, I wonder whether these are being made from a place of fear or love.
And before you suggest I am getting all airy fairy, keep in mind that fear encompasses emotions and/or approaches that are manipulative, threatening, frightening, eroding, controlling, etc which can cause anxiety, dis-ease, doubt, panic, control – sound familiar? Whereas love encompasses such things as compassion, kindness, selflessness, care and, one of my favourites, empowerment.
Like many of us – I am deeply saddened by the potential route we are currently heading down – one of dis-unity, one of segregation – desperation. I know with all my heart that this is not who we are. If we were to take out the maddening fear that can distort practical, empathic minds, I know that the majority of Kiwis wish for nothing more than peace of mind and the freedom to choose and do what they believe is best for them and their family (while doing no harm to others).
I am reminded of the old saying ‘where your focus goes, your energy flows’. The more we feed the negative (unintentionally or otherwise), the more it feeds the beast. Whereas if we focus on kindness, compassion, gratitude, truth, we feed hope (interestingly, hope only exists in a place of fear, ie, if we had no fear there would be no need to hope).
So coming back to my pondering, what is it going to take to create a shift in the way we lead – bring in a new dawn so to speak? Whether it be at a national or local level, or maybe more specifically as individuals, in our businesses, communities, homes.
I believe it actually starts with us. Because as we all know, each of us leads by example, often through what we do rather than what we say, although words can be a reflection of our hearts. How we treat people, how we go about doing what we do speaks volumes.
If we are going to create the authentic, trusting and inspiring leadership this country deserves, that each of us deserves, then it is going to require a move from fear-based leadership to aroha, one of honesty, transparency and compassion.
What gives me great hope is there are many leaders already working in this space, often quietly without the noise. It does take some courage to stand in one’s own light, especially if it is seen to go against the norms. And here lies part of the issue - the norms don’t seem to be serving us so well anymore.
It is time to cultivate, to motivate, to consider a new (or not so new) approach to leadership. I choose to be part of this conversation. This action. This doing. This being.
1 November 2021 (first day of spring)