Patrick Jinks

Patrick Jinks

We are always in unprecedented times, are we not? Every political election seems to out-crazy the one before it. And the crazy tone of humanity ramps up accordingly. Civility seems to be vanishing. That’s where leadership comes in — OUR leadership.

Leaders set the tone. ┬áRegardless of our political ideology, we in the social sector MUST demonstrate how to be civil — how to have the tough conversations — how to disagree — how to listen to opposing points of view — how to open our minds — how to stand for justice without being disrespectful of others’ legitimate points of view and perspectives.

I once enjoyed a rare couple of hours over a beer with the great Marshall Goldsmith (leadership coaching fans will know exactly who that is — those who don’t, look him up!). He shared with me that for a leader, it’s “always, always, always, always, always, always — ALWAYS showtime.” We are always being watched. We control the switch. We turn the light on, or we darken the room. We control the volume, the tone, and even the content of the conversation. And he reminded me that jumping on social media and ranting against the people we disagree with is not separate from our professional leadership lives. As leaders, we don’t get that luxury.

I am still learning and listening — and trying to remind myself that I am as stubborn and self-absorbed in my own perspectives as anyone else. Being conscious of that — admitting it — is an important step in changing it.

Goldsmith once conducted a study with his Harvard colleagues. The question: ┬áWhat percentage of all workplace conversation is either lifting up oneself, or putting down someone else? The answer…. a whopping 65%. The solution: ┬áStop those conversations!

We are in a unique position as social sector leaders, and certainly as Blue Ridgers, to make a difference. Let’s protect each other by keeping each other accountable for the tones we foster. Someone is always watching.

What are YOUR thoughts? How can we do this?