Addendum: For those looking for a tangible next step, a way to begin engaging in dialogue, I would strongly recommend your checking out this website designed by a Harvard Business School MBA student. This Washington Post article does a wonderful job explain the purpose of this initiative.
The universal tenets of the collaborative leadership model speak to the ability to act collaboratively, identify and rethink boundaries, build purposeful relationships and be a better leader and citizen. And, by definition, a democratic society is one in which individuals are treated equally and have equal rights.
One of the clear lessons that I think this election cycle has illuminated is the need for collaborative leadership. Individuals came out to the polls and, according to the political pundits, voted into office an individual who, for them, represented an upheaval to the existing system. A system that they believe offers them no voice and no representation in government. They chose, as Michael Moore shared, to use their vote to vocalize their discontent.
This radical departure from the status quo has left many unsettled as to what the future may hold for them, their families, their friends, their communities and their nation. I would submit that this is the time, as our President, President-Elect, and the Former Secretary of State have all called for, to come together; to engage in dialogue; to open the path to greater inclusivity.
This election has brought to the surface many biases, fears and beliefs, and while this country has endured significant upheavals throughout its history, I believe we stand at a precipice as a nation. The real opportunity lies in not turning our attention toward one group and our back to another, but in stepping back in order to encompass and include all. This is not easy as this involves being able to truly engage in dialogue; to listen to those whose views and experiences may radically differ from your own, and to do so from a place of seeking to understand rather than needing to be understood. To be clear, understanding does not mean that you need to agree with someone else’s point of view; rather, it is the act of deeply hearing them. And this is not the work of the President alone. The President, or any individual, cannot make this country great for every citizen alone. This election has shown us that we each have a voice, and that our voice matters. How powerful would it be if we used our voices to engage in dialogue, in civil discourse, recognizing that we cannot make this country better for ourselves at the expense of someone else?
For more than a decade, the Center for Collaborative Leadership has worked to inspire and challenge leaders in our region and beyond to act collaboratively, identify and rethink boundaries, build purposeful relationships, and be a better leader and citizen. We firmly believe in a collaborative leadership model that is a process built on teamwork, trust and respect for diversity of thought. The process enables people to lead while encouraging leadership in others.
The impact of collaborative leadership is that it provides a means to achieve far better results than any one leader can accomplish on their own. We are incredibly proud of our more than 600 alum who continue to work to bridge differences in an effort to address the issues we face. We at the center are committed to continuing to explore, expand, embody and imbue this view of leadership – for our communities, our region, our nation, and the world.
So many individuals are asking, ‘what can I do to?’ In the words of a good friend, I would recommend you consider a space for people to have their feelings, whatever they may be, and once they’ve been able to process their emotions, get to the business of participating in the democracy that was designed to facilitate participation of people with a variety of beliefs. I encourage you to engage in dialogue, in civil discourse, acknowledging the human being in front of you in an effort to find common ground and a path forward. This is the essence of collaborative leadership in a democratic society.