A note to leaders

What we need to discuss more is how in a hierarchy, climbing to the top gradually erodes empathy.

It is not necessarily a fault of the leader, especially as climbing any height makes your behind visible for all to see and judge. Eroded empathy is actually a survival instinct.

It is however a responsibility of the leader to be aware that the callused scars borne from the climb, does not have to make the heart callous.

With a shift in generations, what I have found in most spaces is a shift from the blind urge to make the climb, to a questioning of why the mountain cannot be leveled into a plain. Why do you have to look up to anyone when you can look forward to your own journey?

This shift in ideology is discomforting to those who have always believed hardwork is the master key, and that the more hardwork you trade in, the greater your reward. They see no other way, but the hard way. They are both right and wrong.

It is true that the start of anything is hard, including life (there is scarely any greater pain than vaginal delivery). But it is also possible to do hard things differently (a caesarian section).

There are circles where it is abominable to have an elective caesarian section. Some science papers support this position with proof on the benefits of immunity acquired by a child going through the birth canal.

Deciding to have less pain does not  necessarily mean easy life. The scar from a caesarian section is larger and more easily seen than the one from a vaginal delivery. Some people prefer to carry a larger scar for an easier birth. Their choice is valid.

A healthy living child is the goal of the delivery room and both choices deliver.

As leaders, we need more empathy for those we lead, especially in the emerging space being shaped by the new generation.

It starts with self-empathy.

You worked with the tools available to you in your time (and space), and found success, but the tools have become less effective. There are new tools which are more effective. The new tools expose a vulnerability. Vulnerabilities are opportunities to learn. Learning requires humility. Humility is an opening for empathy.

Be empathetic towards yourself. Understand that though the old tools got you this far, they must dropped for you to pick up new ones. Dropping what your hands have long grown accustomed to is not easy. The new tools will feel weird for a while.

Be patient with yourself as you learn how to use the new tools. It took you time to master the tools that are no longer effective. It will most likely take you less time to master the new tools because you already know some tricks, but it will still take you some time.

Find a mentor that creates a space for you to share your mistakes, and a mirror for you to see the areas to improve. “You cannot read the label from inside the bottle.”

Be empathetic towards others. They are having to live with the mistakes you make as you learn.

The principles for success are enduring, but the tools change with the times. The good thing is that those who understand the principles, learn how to use new tools faster and better.

I am rooting for you.

– Osasu Oviawe

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