Leadership Strategies: Being Soft and Strong
Just when we think there is no other way to lead than to polarize, to be seen as strong and pointed in perspective; or be seen as soft and weak, the voice of Aung San Suu Kyi bursts forth on the world stage. Her release from house arrest is celebrated throughout Myanmar/Burma, throughout the world.
In just a few short sentences, this soft yet strong woman sets the stage for what the world needs now. Nobel Prize winner Suu Kyi started her address to the thousands who came to share this moment of freedom with her by stating, “This is a time Burma needs help. We ask everyone to help us. Western nations. Eastern nations. The whole world…it all starts with dialogue.” She also cautions, “A one-woman show is not a democracy.” Dialogue and collaboration, those are nourishing words for societies starved by rhetoric and polarization.
Peeling away these simple sentences gives us a compass pointing toward a better way. In true dialogue, you and another or many others, bring together each person’s unique points of view, going back and forth taking aspects of each viewpoint, gathering bits of information until you can all come together with a newer, more vital perspective than could have been developed individually. Dialogue is systemic in nature, the essence of collaboration, and in our argumentative and debate-oriented world, a vital force waiting to be harnessed.
In her famous speech, “Freedom from Fear,” Suu Kyi takes us to that place where big, strong, bold statements, where radical messages, where “my way or the highway” mentality thrives. “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. Fear spurs many leaders to lose sight of their purpose.”Continued on the next page