Just about a week ago, I returned from an incredibly rich and rewarding trip to Denver for the 2012 ILA Global Conference. As I’ve blogged recently, I’m glad to be a member of the International Leadership Association, which brings together academics, business professionals, students and other folks who study and practice leadership around the world. This latest conference experience made for the second opportunity to co-present with my fellow learner and mother (pictured above). We had submitted to present a session on generational differences for this conference and received a call the next day inviting us to present at the Berlin conference which was focusing on leading across generations. In Denver, we had the opportunity to present an interactive roundtable session with great conversations involving people from nearly every generation at work today. Nonetheless, it has been a worthwhile experience to come together, share, research and present with my “Boomer” mom!
The theme of the conference created a relevant and poignant framework for considering leadership study and practice during the time in Denver…
“Leadership Across the Great Divides: Bridging Cultures, Contexts, and Complexities”
After nearly four full days of learning in sessions, conversations with others and reading as well, I’ve realized again that as much as we can teach, write, speak about, and for that matter “sell” leadership best practices, principles for success or anything like “Three Things You Need to Know about _________,” there is no equation that works everywhere. Especially after my experience presenting in Berlin this summer, there are countless elements at play that create the need for different approaches and leadership solutions. From home country to organizational culture to unique team dynamics, the environments where we live, work, study and lead make all the difference to how we act. These “divides” of culture, context and complexity can be small and some can seem insurmountable to bridge. Nonetheless, before we can prescribe “three easy steps for leadership success,” there needs to be time and energy spent to identify and leverage these opportunities for coming together and leading forward.
Whether hearing from the father of organizational culture, Edgar Schein, asking a question of Barbara Kellerman regarding followers and their growing influence in organizations or listening to Brene Brown speak again about leading through vulnerability–it was clear as I “learned in the Rockies,” that complex issues need more than simple solutions. As I continue to mentally unpack another learning experience, I hope to not be as quick to jump at offering an answer or solution to a situation and instead appreciate unique needs, try to understand the elements at work and ask good questions.