I was reading an article in the paper this week that had a group of Gen Y’s telling us that we’re way too worried about the future. Acknowledging that we’ve got a lot to do to shore up our future, they then went on to say, “Calm down, we’ve got this!”
Reading this did give me a sense of calm in many ways, despite the fact that I don’t believe that they as a generation can do this without the help of their Gen Z counterparts or the support of like-minded Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. I’m not totally confident that Gen Y hasn’t contributed to our social and humanitarian concerns – after all, they are the “special” generation who like their gadgets and ‘nice things’. That aside, it’s largely within this generation where conscience leadership resides and it’s this cohort that’s bringing the like-mindeds along with them. Their influence in the social conscience space can’t be ignored.
What does leading with a social conscience mean?
Apart from the notion of purpose-driven leadership I’ve already blogged about, those with a social conscience are motivated toward something bigger than working their butts off to contribute to a company’s bottom line. Right now, leading with a social conscience comes from a strong desire to help those who are living in poverty and to help restore environmental disasters that could be only decades away.
Those of us who tend to have an inner sense of what is right or wrong about the work we are doing, the people we work with and the motives of the business, are probably those who are struggling right now in workplaces all over the world.
I don’t think it’s about business plans and leadership strategies and competency frameworks any more. Leadership – as we know it, generally speaking, and at this point in time – isn’t working. The surveys tell us, the reports tell us, we know it. We keep talking about top management commitment being needed, as if that’s the answer. Isn’t that where the focus on nothing more than financial results is driven from?
Leadership at the moment is a bit like VW’s purpose – it’s there, it exists, but no-one believes it’s making much of a difference or believes in it.
The only planet we know of that sustains so much life and beauty is struggling, and we humans are responsible. From burning fossil fuels, to farming and deforestation, we’re ripping our planet apart for the sake of greed, power, money, and a burgeoning population that is putting enormous pressure on the planet’s resources.
- Changing climatic conditions, monumental levels of environmental damage, poverty, inequality, lack of food, water and shelter.
- The commute to work is getting longer. Workplaces are affected by low levels of engagement, high levels of stress, sleep problems, relationship problems and declining productivity.
- Social unrest can be felt.
- Our planet is being impacted faster than we can identify.
- Those who can have the greatest impact are behaving like ostriches.
- The majority of businesses and the leaders they nurture, still put profit above all else.
- The focus on growth and GDP at the expense of social and environmental damage.
- Business and Governments need to re-focus their focus before it’s too late to save ourselves from ourselves. Everyone needs to work from a social conscience perspective.
- Relocate some corporate and Government functions away from large cities (Bernard Salt has been talking about this a lot lately) to create less road stress, less commute stress, less work stress, less financial stress.
- Align leadership with our biology to re-create wellness and wellbeing, cultures that are safe and supportive, productive workplaces.
- The orange lead tells those of us who take their dogs to canine training classes that the dog with the orange lead is a danger to human beings (and other dogs) i.e. give the dog with the orange lead plenty of space. There are leaders out there who should be wearing the orange lead.
Humans, it’s time to develop a social and environmental conscience and take some action.
There’s no longer any decent excuse to be a leader without a conscience. But let’s give an amnesty to the leaders who are ‘faking it’ or in it for self-interest. Let’s give them time to reflect on where they’re at and why, and seek out what they need to do to lead from a position of conscience.
In the meantime, take it away Gen Y. I’m calm!
Follow Cathy Knight