The power of "and" the obligation of leadership

by Steven Fulmer

Leadership --- it's not just for work or city hall. It permeates all aspects of our lives, from our personal relationships to our professional and political careers.

No matter the recipient of our leadership, the obligation of leadership is courage.

This includes having the courage to stand up and speak, but also having the courage to sit down and sincerely listen to the responses of others with an open mind of possibility. 

So often, we avoid the difficult conversations. It's not that we-re afraid to argue or to shoot monologues and criticisms back-and-forth at each other. Rather, it's that we all too often avoid the dialogues, the tough questions, and the creative/compassionate communication that leads to real and genuine solutions.  

We resort to an "us and them" mentality. You-re either right or you-re wrong; you-re either with me or against me. Human beings are way too diverse to be that black and white, that "either/or." Instead, we are a diverse and rich collection of "ands." I can be fiscally conservative and socially liberal or vice versa. I can be pro-environment and pro-business, pro-profit and pro-health care.  

Great leadership comes from the courage to recognize and honor all those "ands," to have the dialogues that move us toward solutions that unify rather than divide. True leadership has the courage to ask the bold questions and the courage to sit down and listen, to allow for the dialogue their courageous asking will generate.  

What is that one question for you that will have the greatest positive impact on your life, your team and/or your community? Do you have the courage to ask it, and the courage to listen, and the courage to inspire a true dialogue?

Steven Fulmer will lead a preconference workshop at the Association's Annual Meeting on "The Courage to Lead" and a breakout session on Thursday afternoon.
Preconference workshops are a separate, ticketed event.