We have heard much about how our country is being led these past few days. Surrounding the devastating shootings are some of the values, messaging and influence of leadership. On the one hand we have heard heroic stories of leaders who took risks, protected lives and truly were heroes. We have heard stories of compassion, empathy, sympathy and hopefulness. However there has been much analysis about some of our nation’s leaders who have created polarization, criticism of certain other individuals who are not like them and even levels of contempt for other human beings.
When we see and feel the reality of death and violence that is elicited by any form of extremism it leaves us with a sobering reality that individuals who inflict this violence and tragedy are vulnerable to the influences, impact and values of the leaders around them. We can label them as mentally ill or blame those who impacted them in their lives, but we cannot dismiss that they live in a society that has conditioned them to create this kind of suffering and loss of life.
I think one comment that stuck with me is the reality that the tone which leaders set matters. Individuals who have been placed in leadership of any organization have a stewardship to all those within that organization. I personally believe that about my role in our organization and take very seriously. It is my responsibility to set a tone that builds our organization, supports our staff and promotes our mission to help children, teenagers, parents, professionals and communities to have productive lives. I cannot create resonance within Lakeside if I am not aware of my impact or if I choose to be critical of our staff, clients or community. My tone sets the messaging, core beliefs and values of who we are as an organization.
Likewise, the tone of our political and community leaders matters. In order for our citizens – vulnerable or not – to be safe, protected, unified and emergent, the leaders that serve them must set a consistent and cohesive tone. Resonant leaders that create harmony and societal strength will be mindful of how they impact others and hopeful to create a better world. They will have compassion that will not only have empathy but will meet the needs that they perceive, particularly in a crisis.
For too long we have been desensitized by such discord, anger and sometimes even hateful jargon that feeds issues like polarization, disrespect, biases and yes even violence. What has happened again this past week in our country has been sobering. Our speech, our values and our actions must reflect an America that cares about our fellow man no matter where they come from, what they believe or what they look like. The tone that our leaders set is essential to help us all work through some very complex issues, including our differences, so that we will have capacity to find ways to unify our nation and learn to love and care for each other. Our leadership tone truly matters!