I had the opportunity to participate this week in the Global Peter Drucker Forum, diving into the discussions of the theme, “Leadership Everywhere.” Unlike the glamorous Vienna ballroom where it was originally scheduled, we all logged in virtually from our homes or offices. With rich discussions and stellar speakers, conversations focused on inspiring a “fresh perspective of management.”
On the last day of the conference, while knee deep into the discussion of “Leadership—More than Good Management,” suddenly like a small tornado, my children burst into the room, informed me that the virtual classroom Halloween luncheon was starting in 30 minutes. Parents were expected to come in costume. Right. Now. So while I continued listening to the session about the differences between management and leadership, (and whether it even mattered) my kiddos transformed me into a bow wearing, pigtail loving, Dorothy.
Only 30 minutes earlier I had attended a networking session on camera with fellow business consultants and engineers from around Europe, where we had discussed the important mission of WiBE and the need for more diverse leadership within business schools. We delved into the topics of impact and sustainability, and of building new teams across organizations. I looked and sounded like a CEO.
Now I had entered the Land of Oz, where I greeted other parents virtually on Zoom, dressed as bananas, monkeys or witches, to support children who would have a Halloween like no other. We listened to their scary stories they had written about ghost and witches, but they also wrote of masks, social distancing, and the most terrifying of all, the “pandemic.”
After a quick costume change and right before I returned to the closing plenary remarks of the forum, I received an email from the principal. It looked like the hope we had for a hybrid return to January with at least some resemblance of normal, would not be happening. We had to choose between switching classes and teachers abruptly in the middle of the year, or staying virtual through June 2021. We had two days to decide.
We are in this colorful strange new world, and for many of us, leadership doesn’t feel like it is everywhere. It feels deeply hidden and elusively missing. We are still seeking courage like the Lion, heartfelt leadership like the Tin-Man, and conquering self doubt like the Scarecrow.
We keep hoping that the end of the yellow brick road is only around the corner and any minute we can return to the normalcy of what our home and work used to be, but in reality that journey has only begun.
If it is true that leadership is everywhere, then certainly, we must work harder to find it from within. Let us hope that together, we can create a better future for Oz.
Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Lisa Leander is an international development and management expert with eighteen years experience managing higher education initiatives in 22 different countries. In addition to leading WiBE, she currently is a Senior Advisor to the Global Business School Network where she previously spent a decade working to improve management and entrepreneurship education globally. During the day you might find her advising U.S. multinational companies navigating complex market opportunities in the Middle East, creating complex art creations with her two daughters or attempting to train a high energy German Shepherd.
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