Leadership in 2020 requires so much more of you than it did from the baby boomers that are exiting stage left. They lead in an era where prosperity and striving for the mighty dollar without considering the cost to human, animal, and planetary life was acceptable with few questions asked. Those that challenged segregation, racism and issues of diversity swam against the tide and often paid the price.
There were many inspiring leaders of their generation, those that inspired beyond a generation and created a legacy. They were incredible leaders of their time. However, often their personal lives would not have stood up to the scrutiny of the digital age. One of my all-time favourite historical speeches is not necessarily one everyone would think of first.
It is Robert F Kennedy announcing the death of Martin Luther King to the people of Indianapolis. As a leader, he recognised the pain of loss felt by those that Martin Luther King lead, he addressed the anger they would be feeling towards those that caused the death, and he expressed empathy by sharing the pain he had endured less than five years earlier at the assassination of his brother JFK.
His speech addressed the issues, the answers and gave hope. More than anything, it brought all sides of the divide together, and while riots raged through other areas where Kennedy spoke, it was peaceful. He was a leader that at a time when tensions were at their highest held his people together.
Leadership that will create impact is leadership that shows the same key components represented in that speech. It addressed the challenges, looks to solutions and shows empathy. What we need to be considerate of is while championing this style of leadership, we also embrace kindness. Not only as leaders but as those looking in from the outside.
We need to realise and celebrate the imperfectly perfect, a concept we often shy away from and don’t apply to our leaders. However, leaders are human, mortals of flesh and blood and have their good and bad days, as we all do. Their leadership should be weighed in the balance not judged on one snapshot in time.
It is evident that leadership in 2020 is complex, requires support, education and continual development to address the issues facing Australia and the globe. We see change at a pace not witnessed in over four decades and as an emerging, middle or executive leader, you need to embrace this change and be part of the solution.
As leaders, we can look to the past for inspiration. However, this is our moment to shine and leave a legacy for the future. Let’s embrace the complexity we face, look for long term solutions that benefit all, show empathy and lead with purpose.