Talkin’ About My Generation

ShiningStarAn online discussion this weekend brought me back almost 3 decades, to my first job out of college.  With my brand new political science degree in hand, I became the first ever legislative aide for the maverick city council member in the city where I lived.

My research skills a given, the attribute that had placed me at the top of the heap of qualified job candidates was my inexperience with city politics.  That’s right – INexperience.  My boss was eager to receive recommendations based on pure research, not on whether the recommendation might “fly” politically. Being young and fresh with no political baggage, I was the perfect candidate!

Pretty cool, eh?  Not really.  The problem was that my boss second-guessed everything I brought him, based on his experience of what might “fly” politically.

After three years of researching innovative approaches to issues as critical to our city as rape-prevention and cross-city transportation of hazardous materials, the ONLY piece of legislation I had any impact on was the strengthening our city’s noise ordinance. The total result of three years of my life was that people who lived near a bar would be able to sleep a little more soundly.

What should have been the job of my dreams sucked the spirit right out of me.

I was reminded of this when a question was raised in an online discussion this weekend.  The premise that preceded the question was this:

“We all recognize that there is a significant leadership gap in the coming generations.”

To say that statement unsettled me would be a huge understatement. My guess is the person who asked the question didn’t mean this assumption to sound as harsh as it sounds, but in truth, it is not that different from the ongoing drumbeat we hear across the sector these days.

The Leadership Gap.  Headline after headline, ED networking group after networking group, conference after conference – everyone is bemoaning the Leadership Gap.

I have a confession to make about the Leadership Gap.  I don’t see it.

Here is what I DO see:

I see a lot of hand-wringing by baby boomers about the need for new leadership to take over the reins as my age-peers retire. And I see a lot of activity by young people, seeking to be acknowledged for the very real and very passionate and very skilled leadership they are already evidencing.

In that disconnect, I see a lot of chauvinism (on the part of baby boomers) and a lot impatience (on the part of younger people).

I see baby boomers looking to establish leadership programs for their younger counterparts that a) they themselves never had to take to qualify for their jobs (having learned from mentors and by just doing it) and b) that are not in any way attractive to younger people on their way up.

As a baby boomer myself, if there is anything I have NOT seen it is a lack of leadership in up and coming generations – just the opposite.

So is the Leadership Gap really a gap in the ability of my own generation to see beyond the way we’ve always done things? Is it a gap of control? A gap of communications, openness to new ideas, new ways of being in the world?

I remember how it felt to be in my late 20’s, eager to move a different agenda into the realm of social change. Oddly enough, it is that very agenda that has grown up, all these years later, to become the core of the Community-Driven Institute and the Pollyanna Principles.

As I think back to the city councilman I worked for all those years ago, and I watch the actions and listen to the complaints of my age peers as they bemoan the Leadership Gap, I cannot help but wonder.

Is it really the young people coming up behind us who need that leadership training? Or is it those of us who inadvertently stifle their leadership?

The generation that is coming of age and stepping onto the world stage is skilled and schooled. They are passionate. They are tech-savvy and connected to each other and the world in ways we could never dream is possible.

My generation has before it a unique opportunity. We can choose to open the space for this amazing group of people to step into – giving them the freedom to grow into the skills they are already showing they have in abundance.  We can give them the freedom and encouragement to make the mistakes that they will not only learn from, but that will make them stronger leaders.  We can give them the encouragement and show them we believe in them.

As generations before them have done, they will step into that space in their own way, which is likely to be very different than how we would do it.

And that will be totally ok.

Photo credit: My front door. This post has me singing Shining Star.

33 Responses to Talkin’ About My Generation

  1. Dearest HILDY-

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are right, my generation (X) is ready and willing to step into the leadership role. I understand the financial side of BB not leaving the workplace ( i mean right now, who is) but the unacknowledged reasons are what makes me angry: There is no one to take over, I still have so much to give, They can’t do it.

    Why? Because we may not do it the same way that you did? Or because, we may decide to take the organization in a new direction? Or, that you don’t want to give away the control that you have had for all of these years to shape the way the world has become?

    Hearing that you had a conversation like this makes me realize that the perception of the leadership gap is very paternalistic. As that next generation ready to move ahead , the statement you wrote about above is akin to being patted on the head and being told ” that’s nice dear, but you arent ready”.

    I wrote about Gen X leadership on my blog describing us as the sandwich generation. Well, i for one have decided to raise up and encourage my fellow Gen Xers to do so at well and say:

    “Have faith in us, hand over the reins, plan your legacy and move out of the way.”

    Ericka

  2. Thanks for the comments and conversation. With my limited sampling of current members of gen y- I am very optimistic! Thoughtful, smart, well prepared. My bigger concern is making sure we have enough opportunities for all of them to use their vast talent.

  3. Ericka:
    Thank you so much for your passion. Your comment has me smiling to consider all sorts of new possibilities for what it means to “lead.”

    We are so used to thinking of leadership in the hierarchical sense – that if one is to lead, the rest must follow. That cultural image of “leadership” is so ingrained in us!

    What if leadership didn’t have to be that one narrow definition? What if we are all leaders and all followers, working in partnership towards our common vision of what is possible?

    There are examples of shared leadership all around us. What if we took this moment in history to say, “Our organizations will model the shared leadership we wish to see in our communities – we will no longer model the divisive behaviors we decry in our communities”?

    I do not necessarily know what that would look like, but I would love to explore what it makes possible.

    Thank you for sparking me to consider what that experiment might be, Ericka. What opportunities we many generations have before us to do this better than has ever been done before! What an amazing opportunity to truly model the change we want to see in our world! Wow!

    Hildy

  4. I’m a Boomer too and tend to think the world revolves around our generation — because from our perspective, it has since late 1947. I think however, that every generation thinks much the same thing and the only difference is that there are so many of us!

    Every city and town wants to think it’s different and every generation wants to believe the same thing. The cloths change, the technology changes and god knows the music changes but the people are pretty much the same!

  5. Hildy:
    Um, again another reason for us to meet. u , me, dc, world cooperation. I see it so clearly. Count me in on whatever beaker leadership model you have brewing.

    The shared leadership model works as long as the partners are able to come to the table equally. It requires abundance thinking, not scarcity thinking and it requires collaboration, not direction taking.

    so much to consider. Blog posting to do. Thinking to be done.

    Thank you for your amazing leadership.

    Ericka

  6. “What if leadership didn’t have to be that one narrow definition? What if we are all leaders and all followers, working in partnership towards our common vision of what is possible?”

    Bingo! I don’t subscribe to the sentiment that generational gaps are to be strictly observed and that the different generations are incapable of working together in a symbiotic and respectful environment.

    I’ve heard the point made that we should expect different outcomes from different generations, often citing varying levels of experience and wisdom to support the argument, and I don’t see its validity. It’s also a blatant insult to the younger generations. In my field, I’ve worked with some inspiring Gen Y’ers; these amazing kids prove that if leadership qualities are innate within a person’s nature, age is no barrier.

    Much too often in our society we get hung up on labels whose weight can drive us right to point of inaction. How daunting must it be, as a member of the younger generation, to hear that the handing-down of the responsibilities of the world is upon them?

    This isn’t a relay race whereby one sprinter faithfully waits for his fellow athlete to hand over the baton so that he or she can run their assigned section of the track. What our world needs is one massive and communal marathon. Some will emerge leaders, others will stay behind and follow. Regardless, we’re all in it together.

    Let’s eliminate the negative stereotypes that boxes different generations into certain behavior, role, time or place. I don’t really care what generation you belong to, but if you’re able and willing to help make a change, go right ahead. 🙂

  7. What a beautiful and timely post!

    Interestingly enough, we share a similar background. After years as a teenager volunteering for political candidates, I became the youngest aide to a progressive – and well-regarded – state representative from Detroit, Michigan. Even today, years after his passing, I recall how ahead-of-the times he was, focusing (and funding) prevention in areas like social services, mental health and corrections.

    I don’t know if the gap that you speak of is anything new. Some folk – like yourself – evolve, and others never do.

    “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”
    Muhammad Ali

  8. It’s so nice to see spirited discussion on this topic from workers of different generations. I, too, am a young professional (29) who wants to curl up in a ball whenever I hear someone refer to the coming leadership gap. I know the Boomers who will passing the torch to us came of age while much of the not-for-profit sector itself came of age, and I can imagine the sense of ownership that that involves. But I also know that I am a capable, intelligent, productive worker with leadership potential and a desire to take the reins when the time comes.

    If more discussions like these take place throughout the not-for-profit world, we will all benefit from them. I look forward to being at the table as they happen, and generating a few in the process.

    Thanks for the great post, Hildy. :]

  9. Unfortunately, this is a discussion as old as time. Each generation bemoans the shortcomings of the next. There isn’t a leadership void. There may be a manpower void caused by the size disparity between the boom generation and genX that results in a change in how we define leadership. Hovering boomers won’t fix it, even though we’ve become masters of hovering. It’s time to get out of the way and embrace change.

    I work with a lot of people who are genxers and millenials. I’ve found if you give them more than enough rope to hang themselves, they won’t. They’re very creative in ways that I’ve never dreamed of and they create wonderful things.

  10. I am so encouraged by the different generations all weighing in here! And I can’t help but come back to this terrific opportunity we have to do things differently. Because Dave is absolutely right – in other venues this weekend, people were quoting Socrates and Aristotle to me, as evidence that this is an argument as old as time.

    But our past doesn’t have to define our present or our future! If we had communities and organizations without a hierarchical leadership structure, what might that look like? And what examples are there of such structures here and now – in other cultures and in western culture?

    I am convinced this is worth more than just bemoaning. Between the multiple generations sharing their various brilliance, and the technology that is busting our image of what is possible re: shared “being,” – what is possible? And how can we start modeling THAT?
    HG

  11. Hildy, you continue to inspire and to open minds. I just sent this post to all the “old” board members of the community benefit organization I serve in the hope they will read it and give it thought.
    Thank you.
    Doug

  12. Hildy, I think this is a fascinating discussion- one I’ve spent a great deal contemplating in my own work in community economic development, especially lately when I’ve been working on sustainability/green economy CED projects. Very valid points above, and maybe I can expand on them:

    1)I’ve recognized profound differences in learning and community engagement between age groups. I have recognized that the younger generation is profoundly intrinsically motivated to learn- independently and collaboratively. This group is passionate, yes, but more action-oriented, less interested in the navel-gazing rhetoric (unless you have a plan for action, means for allowing them to self-organize and help guide them towards implementation, they probably aren’t interested in showing up at your meetings to be “talked at” in some pedantic way). These dynamic people are less interested in hierarchies and jockeying for political power than the previous generation. It’s “leading from the 12th chair a la Ben and Rosamunde Zander in “The Art of Possibility”. They want to build something- very generative and collaborative.

    2. Ignore these folks at your own peril- they may be impatient, but these are our future civic leaders. Just because their interests might not be congruent with the industrial age leadership model- linearity and all- if they are interested and engaged, ask them questions, share your problems and concerns. You can’t treat social capital as though it is a disposable commodity. Support and seed self-organization, and it may have to be in a parallel process, and keep trying to connect them to broader initiatives. I’ve found the younger generation have a tendency to use more futuristic thinking- and this has allowed a project to “be where the puck is” and avoid the re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic “reactive” and short term mentality to a much higher level of effort.

    3. I think I’m tending to avoid the either/or thinking about leadership- neither generation is necessarily better, but both have incredible skills to bring to the table. Yes, the equality issue is important. Older people like to think they’ve finally attained a certain level of wisdom and experience and deserve the Big Dog label. (Im still waiting for this for myself) However, the problems we are dealing with now are of such scale and scope- so complex- that we need all types of thinking, and in that requisite inclusivity should be the younger generation.

    4. I have started having this generation represented in all of my projects- they are given responsibilities beyond the “cheap labor”-fetching coffee and folding flyers- internship mentality, along with the stringent accountability guidelines. They have valued these opportunities and have made the community work richer and more sustainable. I have also connected them to older leaders, and have found the learning goes both ways. I’m kind of straddling the fence, generationally, (I prefer the expression “timeless”)and value both generations’ style- though I am secretly a passionate advocate of youth leadership

  13. Clicked over here from the LinkedIn conversation where this started. Just a quick thought …

    Seems like there’s some “all or nothing” thinking sometimes on this subject: Boomers have to “step aside” and let the youngsters lead, that sort of thing.

    Well, as a boomer I’m hardly ready to “step aside” and give up involvement in civic life. But I would love to be working alongside more people younger than I am.

    So I’m looking for “both and” instead of “either or” ways to think about this. We all have things to learn from each other and there’s plenty of good work to go around.

    As always, you get me thinking, Hildy.

  14. Hildy

    As you know, I write about and teach quite a bit on this subject. I think the new model of leadership is situational instead of hierarchical. It is sensitive to context. It places team performance ahead of ego-gratification. It has the perspective that comes with maturity.

    Eagerness to lead and ability to lead are two different things. The ability is not in doubt. I think that the eagerness can be a ‘false positive,’ and that all next-gen players want to do is lead (or shirk responsibility completely, but that’s just human nature), when in fact it’s skillful FOLLOWING that is more important in the networked environment. It is not about STARRING as much as it it is casting. Next gen leadership is not about authoring the narrative as much as it is the ability to reveal the strands of the narrative that are most worth following, and nurture the behaviors (through a limitless number of strategies, which I call games) that enable teams to weave those strands together productively and profitably.

    Mentorship, which not recognized in most organizations as good use of resources, is vital. When I started at Disney, a number of the legends of animation were still around and they spent most of their time teaching, counseling, critiquing, and just generally shooting the shit with the younger animators. Today at Disney, and at most organizations, institutional memory is where the investment goes, and meanwhile the memories that matter, human memories, are getting lost.

    Here’s a post I wrote that touches on some of the above:

    http://www.gamechangers.com/index.html/archives/798

  15. Sandy and Pam:
    Thoughtful – thank you so much. The “either or” rings so true. And again, I think much of that reflects the whole power play that is part of hierarchical leadership. Thank you!
    HG

  16. Mike:
    Wow and thank you! If we are to build the world we want, we must re-imagine leadership to acknowledge that we are all leaders and all followers. And as I consider what you wrote, it occurs to me that the evolution to the next place of what is possible for leadership is not about just our assumptions and actions but our language as well. What we are really talking about is a spectrum of leadership, the players in which may change with each situation. And that is a far cry from the either/or dichotomy the words “leader” and “follower” connote.

    I heartily recommend folks check out the link you provided – http://www.gamechangers.com/index.html/archives/798 Truly, is there anyone who might suggest Hillary Clinton is any less of a leader than the men in that photo?

    Which brings me to ask this:
    If we want to build a more harmonious world, what would leadership look like in that world?

    Loving this discussion!
    HG

  17. From Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, 1601:

    Malvalio:
    In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.

    …not that I’m suggesting Shakespeare left anything out – what I truly think is being said here is that ALL are GREAT…

    Leadership is, in my mind more about the BEing than the DOing. Showing up with your full YOU. As a “younger” member of the BB, had I waited for the reins to be handed to me, I would still be waiting. I followed my passions and created what I desired…and people followed, and one day I noticed I was a leader. I didn’t set out to “be a leader” I just showed up as me. I’m also a terrific follower – when I see someone doing something interesting, I investigate.
    So a couple of questions.
    1. How does talking about a “Leadership Gap” help us create what we want to create? A harmonious world. For me Leadership would look a lot like individuals showing up with their gifts and sharing and giving to their communities and their families and their countries the best of who they are. And that may mean they take the lead on somethings, and are followers on others.
    2. What might that leadership look like? Canada Geese flying in formation – collaboratively moving in a direction, the synergy of the group allowing them to cover long distances over short amounts of time, taking turns “at the point”. Whenever I have questions like this I look to animals and small children.
    3. Where do we already have evidence…well – how about Social Media…who is the leader exactly? Of this Blog, Hildy is, clearly, however others contribute and their leadership is acknowledged and explored…and if someone else wants to lead, they create a new blog, or a new place to communicate, and that sparks others…
    Hildy’s original post stated: “My generation has before it a unique opportunity. We can choose to open the space for this amazing group of people to step into – giving them the freedom to grow into the skills they are already showing they have in abundance. We can give them the freedom and encouragement to make the mistakes that they will not only learn from, but that will make them stronger leaders. We can give them the encouragement and show them we believe in them.

    As generations before them have done, they will step into that space in their own way, which is likely to be very different than how we would do it.”

    Amen sister – AND the “younger folks” who, by the way continue to show up on my radar screen as wise, thoughtful, thought-provoking elders in lamb’s clothing (excuse the metaphor shift, but you catch the drift) just need to BE. Same same with the BB gang.
    It’s all that any of us really need to “do” is just “be”.
    I don’t really think we need to “make space” I think we just need to allow space. Space is a construct and isn’t limited by anything other than our perceptions.
    There is tons of room at the top of a collaborative, constructive, harmonious loving society…you can create as many “tops” as you want…you notice the mountains don’t worry about which one is the Leader…they just be – and together they create a really cool thing called “the mountains”. You can’t even properly tell where one begins and the other leaves off.

    I totally agree with Hildy – however two things I would add for our BB generation…
    1. we open to listening, really listening to these “younger folks” who are in tune, in touch and intuitive.
    2. we let go of the idea of “younger folks” and just marvel in their way of BEing. They connect with others around the planet, they have their fingers on the pulse of a new way of BEing, their passion and intelligence and loving ways are inspirational to me, and I find myself led by them…I’ve learned more from my kids than they ever learned from me…who is the leader?

    I used to say to the kids “In every situation someone has to be the adult – and it isn’t always the tallest or the oldest.” In truth, it was most often one of the kids who would assume a “leadership” role in family dynamics…

    Love the conversation. Honoured to participate – keep on believing.

    And to whomever wishes to lead – just BE your passion. Others are desperate for your light. Shine it. And one day you will realize you already ARE a leader…and you were just BEing you.
    Namaste
    Suze

  18. Suze:
    Your words fill me up, my friend! The honour (note the spelling!) is ours!

    Thanks for reminding me that the reality we seek is already here. It’s all in what we notice, and in what path we choose every moment of every day.

    Going to re-read this before I go to bed, to fill my dreams with light.
    HG

  19. Hi all –
    I want to respond to the “being/doing” duality and say that it’s both. I don’t feel that I have an intrinsic right to just “be.” I live in a first world nation, I am European American, I have money, and education, and all the food I need.

    To respect others I am not showing up and just being, I am taking the time to find out about them, learn about their ways. Before I went to Italy, I learned how to say enough phrases to show respect, to study up on how to show deference to the culture, to demonstrate a desire to learn and embrace something new. In community work, I feel strongly that a leader shows that deference.

    I am a gen Y person — so the label goes — but I do notice that our culture has a bias for the “new” and the “young.” We also seem to reward moxie and confidence over quieter, more deliberate approaches.

    There is actually a lot to learn, and something I learned is that I earn my place in my community by taking responsibility, following through, doing what I said, and being thoughtful as I work with others from a variety of life stories. The new idea might not be new after all. Maybe someone else has thought of that 10 years ago, tried it, learned, and moved on.

    I see leadership as shouldering this ethos of respect, setting aside what might be first nature and holding “my way” as a script that sometimes serves me and sometimes keeps me separate.

    Whatever age you are, it seems leadership seems to be about having something personally on the line, and being willing to go through fire over and over out of a seemingly irrational desire to be of service. In the midst of that there is being and there is most definitely doing.

    I welcome your responses. Warmly, Andrea

  20. I’ve had a few discussions on this topic – thanks for the post!

    My take as a Gen-Xer:

    I am impatient to lead and grow. I’d LOVE a mentor. Can’t find one. I will strike out on my own.

    Baby-boomers (50’s) as bosses and myself seem to have a large disconnect. Our values are different. I want to make an impact; they seem to tally accomplishments. I want to collaborate. They like distance and hierarchy. It’s not empowering. I’m not learning or excelling.

    Strangely, my dad’s generation (he’s in his 70’s) is easier for me to talk to and relate to. I think “baby-boomers” need to be segmented. They are not all the same.

    I am exhausted at explaining technology. I had to learn it, too. We had typewriters and computers in my high school. I acquired technical skills because baby-boomers told me that I had to have them…now I have to explain right-clicking, PDFs, etc. to people who make twice my salary. To be honest, I resent it.

    Management and technology are now wedded, and not appreciating technology and how it works (and how it is built) impedes leadership on all levels.

  21. I have been following this rich discussion closely and am inspired by the passion, wisdom and experience shared here. I’ve I’ve also gained some valuable insights thanks to all of you.

    My past experience as an ED trying to bring 4 generations together in one organization, was not very successful. I expected it to be hard, given the large number of BB’s in our organization and it often was. Since studying the Pollyanna Principles, I know that experience could have been different if we hadn’t expected it to be hard, but instead looked at what shared leadership could make possible.

    That is the question running through my head today as I’m rereading the comments, “What does this kind of multi-generational shared leadership makes possible in our sector?” Wow – the potential for that is mind boggling!

  22. One more thing while it’s on my mind, drawn from the Saints’ victory in the Super Bowl….

    Next generation leadership will see and understand things like the fact that the Saints’ status as (48 of many, many, many more) heroes of New Orleans, and not their status as Super Bowl champs, is of most durable value to them, their community and their organization/brand.

    The story of the rebuilding of New Orleans is what I a ‘Quantum Narrative.’ It is timeless, fluid, with no beginning/middle/end (and at the same time many beginnings/middles/ends). It is non-causative. It is generative. Change is constant. There is no script, but there are rules. It is highly improvisational. There is no (or little) cost of entry. They are meant to be shared. They are, in fact, the physics and flow of the human experience.

    A Super Bowl commercial, by contrast, is what I call a ‘Newtonian narrative.’ These kinds of narratives have a beginning, middle, end. They’re tightly scripted. Causative. They’re rooted in time. The cost of entry is high. Newtonian narratives often emphasize the duality (e.g. what I do not have vs. what I can buy) of experience. Newtonian Narratives are not necessarily a bad thing. Mean Joe tosses his jersey to a Kid in a stadium tunnel, and three generations of fans remember it vividly and fondly, because it participated in a quantum narrative, one you might call, ‘a hero appears to a child.’ How many of the Super Bowl commercials from Sunday will be remembered in 30 years? Like, uh, none? We love our Newtonian narratives, our movies and our books and our recipes for meat loaf, but they are not where the most potential for transformation resides.

    Maybe this is just another way of thinking about zeitgeist, or Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, or the Tao. Whatever it is, I think Quantum Narrative is a useful way of acting on what networks make possible, and how an understanding of the narrative form can bring order, focus, and opportunities for leadership, to a chaotic environment.

    A leader is the the Saints player who finds a way to get 400 new homes instead of what would otherwise be 200 built in the Lower Ninth by the end of 2011. Understanding, participating in, and guiding one’s team toward participation in these quantum narratives, (and ‘charging fair rents’ on the Newtonian narratives they spin out) is, I believe, what leadership will look like in the future.

  23. Andrea and K:
    Reading your thoughtful comments in light of Nancy’s question creates a rich sense of what is possible. And from your comments, I might take Nancy’s question even further – “What does multi-generational, multi-cultural, inclusive shared leadership make possible in our sector?”

    And taking it a step further, what would need to be in place in communities and organizations and interactions overall to make room for that possibility?
    HG

  24. Mike:
    You continue to bowl me over. Your comment truly broadens the definition of team. It suggests there is only one team and that we are all on that team.

    Wow. If there is one team, not rival teams – what does that mean for leadership? Who are we leading? Towards what?

    I can’t help but picture all those movies like Independence Day, where the circumstance of being invaded from outer space makes us suddenly forge bonds to protect ALL of earth, as one race, one family.

    What would it make possible if leadership was about the assumption that we are all one people? Talk about taking Nancy’s great question to the next level!!!
    HG

  25. Said with a tear of admiration on my face, thank you…all of you!
    The breath I took while reading this seemed…well, unfamiliar yet so divine. I feel, perhaps for the first time, that someone from the generation I feel I have been in constant battle with for years, has finally listened and heard my SPIRIT.

    Last year, I took two young women to a leadership conference in Atlanta. It was the Women’s Funding Network where we would spend three days talking about the “injustices” women continue to face and how with enough “money”, the world could change. Feeling “unsettled” (to borrow Hildy’s word) yet not having the words to express myself or worse yet, the faith that I would be heard anyway, I listened and engaged where I had the strength. The two young women however took a different route. They spoke…to anyone and everyone they could. They talked of things with wisdom I felt I was just coming into being thirty years their senior. I was moved beyond description. I began, once again, to experience hope that the world we ALL long for IS indeed not only possible, but with the qualities (if I may call them that) these young women displayed so courageously, it is eminent.

    On day three of the event, a small group of us excused ourselves from the conference room and sat in the hotel lobby with new friends talking of change and how, for some reason, money did not seem to be the source of it. At the table sat, “Baby Boomers”, “Generation X” and “Generation Y”. What I remember is how “different” the BB’s behavior seemed…they were genuinely interested in “learning” from the rest of us. And naturally, we were compelled to express ourselves…genuinely. They asked questions that made the rest of us not only think, but encouraged us to find ways to put into words that which we had been longing to say. I’m a Generation X-er…my experience was surreal. I could hear beyond the BB’s fancy words and phrases which seemed to “trip up” the GenY-ers and could translate in a manner that “kept it real” for them. I felt alive! Someone asked me, “what do you see your role as”…and almost without thought I responded with “I can bring the resource and the vision together, to bridge unnecessary gaps so we can expedite the change that for now, we continue to just talk about”.

    What I sense is missing is the full unbridled expression of gratitude, love and admiration for one another. I believe we, the human race, can work together effectively without having to change the way others think and behave. Can you choose to love and appreciate that which you hate?

    Do my parents and those of their generation acknowledge, appreciate and honor that which “they helped to create”? Do they see me as the product of their “would haves” “should haves”?

    I say to those who created a space in which I have found my wings, thank you, I love you. Now I want you to do something for me…please, remember that you too have wings…find them, spread them and let us fly together. “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

    I long for “leadership this is inspired by the soul”.

  26. Oh Kesha, as always your words make me smile from deep inside. You just always keep reaching for what’s possible!

    What is pure delight in this conversation is the extent to which we are talking beyond age and labels. If, as you suggest, we can ALL remember that we have wings – what does that say for (as Suze suggested) leadership as a way of “being” vs. a skill for “doing”? Clearly that transcends age or culture or race or gender…

    And what might it mean to actively and consciously be a leader inside THAT? Wow. Thank you SO much for this!
    HG

  27. And as we BE the Do appears. INspired action rooted in who we ARE bringing us naturally into who we are BEcoming. The DO brings us to a new place of BEing. The BE brings us to a new way of DOing. Turns out Dean Martin (for all you early BBs) was right…”DoBeDoBeDo, DoBeDoBeDo”
    Bring your best YOU to the light, and you are a leader – in every sector.
    Have an awesome day shining your light!
    Suze