By Akilnathan Logeswaran
In a world full of lions and tigers entertaining the masses, have you ever seen a wolf performing in a circus?
We live in a time where the self-proclaimed leaders of this world all want to be sharks, tigers and lions.
They want to be seen as the strongest in their environment, and we – the society – are used to seeing them portrayed this way.
However, they fail to understand that a shark can be caught and displayed in an aquarium, and the king of the jungle still appears in the circus. But have you ever seen wolves serve as entertainment for the masses? Probably not. In fact, there is no better metaphor for responsible and responsive leadership as the wolves.
A responsive and responsible leader
A responsible leader in my world is someone who paves the way, who works to create space for others, for her team to thrive and evolve. Leaders walk with authenticity, they walk the talk, showing their teams how to react.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]A responsive leader follows no narrow, detailed plan; she sets a strategy. [/su_pullquote]
A strategy that is so clear and evident to everyone on whole team, so that they are free to choose what to do if they face challenges and can find their own way around them.
This sort of leadership is rare in the 21st century, in both the private and public sector spheres. Following Donald J. Trump’s historic presidential win in the United States, headlines have emerged calling Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau the West’s last safe harbours. In a way, they can be seen as the “lonely” wolves in a world where most other “leaders” tend to perform in the spotlight of their own circuses.
The German wolf
In fact, as a German who once opposed – and to some extent still do – Merkel’s key conservative foundation, I have to pay an immense tribute to the way she has led my people, our community and in a way, the world community, through the last decade.Leadership is acting, not merely watching. Angela Merkel is redefining true leadership in Germany. | Source: Time
While in the international press it seemed as if she always followed her clear stance on moral leadership in the refugee crisis, a lesser known fact is her remarkable skill in responsive leadership: carefully listening to the people, over weeks and months, and acting when the time demands, sometimes reversing her own proposals to pave the way forward.
Can you hear what the people say?
Two excellent examples are, first, the “Energiewende” – the German energy transition to the eradication of all nuclear energy, and later, other non-renewable energy sources, leading to the creation of an energy system based on 100% renewable energy. It was her own government that opposed the idea of creating and implementing laws to avoid stepping out of nuclear energy too fast. But, following the events in Fukushima and the German people’s perception of clean energy, she reversed her own stance and allowed the position of her political opponents to pave the way forward.
The second example is the implementation of the minimum wage.
A long-held perception of the conservatives and liberals in Germany, almost the last bastille all over Europe, was an opposition to the idea of a minimum wage and a belief in the power of the free market. But when the time was right or seemed right in her eyes, she evolved her stance.
The moral compass to say “no”
This is what we call responsive leadership. But it also carries a big threat, which is only mitigated by carrying a strong compass of moral values. Because how do we know which forces of the society to listen to, and which path to choose?
[su_pullquote]Why not give in to the demands of scared, angry forces who want to see fewer foreigners seeking shelter in Germany and other countries?[/su_pullquote]
Why not give in to the demands of scared, angry forces who want to see fewer foreigners seeking shelter in Germany and other countries?
That is the moment responsive leadership must be joined by responsible leadership; to have a mindset that not only preserves your values but also takes into account the demands of the current society and the desires and needs of generations to come. Last but not least, it is important to have the courage to say “no” to some wishes and to enforce fundamental human rights. Leadership is acting, not merely watching.
Akilnathan Logeswaran is the Curator of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Munich and the founding Publisher of TamilCulture Germany.
Featured Image Courtesy : International Journalism
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