Polarization keeps us apart, disconnected. Polarization keeps us from finding creative solutions that benefit all.
There is no winning in polarization. There is only “win-lose.”
Leadership is about bringing people together, unifying around a common vision. It is about creating community.
“Leadership is the wise use of power. Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it.” ~Warren Bennis
Unifying people against a common enemy is an immoral use of power. This is what Hitler did — he led his people right over a cliff.
When we are filled with hatred and disrespect, we can only square off in opposite camps. We might negotiate agreements, but each side walks away feeling like they lost more than they gained.
Do not be pulled so strongly toward a pole that you become unbalanced.
It is only through dialogue and surfacing our common concerns, hopes and dreams that we can find solutions that satisfy what is most fundamentally important. Dialogue is about discussion with the intent to understand – not debate with the intent to win.
Move away from the pole and listen. If you are so absolutely certain you’re right that you can’t even listen to another view, you’re probably wrong. If we only discuss issues with people who agree with us, we stop learning and become self-righteous.
You might not be able to have it all, but you can have what you most deeply desire, when you are clear about what you really want.
Collaboration is the remedy for polarization.
Collaboration is not about giving up your individuality. In fact, successful collaboration depends on speaking clearly and honesty about what you stand for. Collaboration is about valuing and mobilizing diversity as a force toward the common good. It is about recognizing and respecting the humanity in each individual, even those who are stuck at a pole.
Finding common ground does not mean giving up what you care about. It means letting go of some of your ideas about what will get you there and considering the possibility there may be another solution. It means respecting the people who see things differently, rather than assuming a superior attitude and dismissing them as evil, crazy, or out of touch with reality.
Collaborative leadership is based on respect, trust and the wise use of power.
Distrust will not create trust. Hatred will not breed respect. Violence will not protect us from violence.
“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
During his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King, Jr cautioned us:
“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrong deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.
Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.”
“Their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”
We are all in this together. If you are stuck at a pole blaming “them” for being unreasonable, remember that in the view from the other side of the pole, you are “them.” You have a choice. You can continue the never-ending cycle of polarization. Or you can decide to stop following leaders who are misusing their power and decide it is time to engage in sincere, respectful dialogue.