Scott Rodin presaged the recent US election with a reminder of how Steward Leaders orient themselves regardless of frightening prospects or outcomes. In the days since, I’ve had opportunity to sit with some CEOs and Executive Directors, for and non-profits, listening to what they consider their most pressing issues. Many are leading divided workforces and/or live in divided families, feeling the deep uncertainty of how to move forward when issues of environment, race, gender, immigration, diversity and health care are so volatile and are fracturing the communities they lead. Discouragement, despair and personal well-being are significant themes in these conversations.
From those who teach us about emotional intelligence, we learn we do well to pay attention to our emotional wakes. That is, our expressions of emotions are like boat motors, creating waves that affect all other craft (people) on the water. It is good for us to be conscious of our emotions and master them into appropriate and useful expression, rather than to let them dominate our rational self and end up causing harm to ourselves and our relationships.
If ever there was a time when people are not paying attention to their emotional wakes, it is now. Not just in the rancor of the recent presidential campaign, but in all the downstream yelling and name-calling, and in all the “I just need to say somethings.” Divisive and angry behaviors keep cascading down as subsequent people decide it is their turn to vent. Rather than a virtuous cycle propelling us forward, we seem to be spinning in a vicious whirlpool that drowns everything.
So…if ever there was a time for leaders to stake their claim to hope, to be examples of firm yet gracious courtesy, to be boundary setters who are also masters of the soft answer that turns away wrath, and to embrace a steward’s calling, it is now. We will fail if we act to self-preserve, holding onto our roles by winning arguments against people who did not yell as loudly as we. Indeed, we would be part of the problem.
Is it overstating it to say we need some new heroes? I’m afraid to say it for fear it will have us thinking of battles and bloodied swords, rather than crosses and empty tombs.
Mark L. Vincent, PhD, CCNL, is the CEO of Design Group International. He serves as a CLA Leader2Leader facilitator and is actively involved as a subject matter expert and faculty for the CLA Outcomes Academy – Online. The 4th edition of his book A Christian View of Money is slated for release in early 2017.
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