Talking Leadership

Professionals Who Make a Difference September Meetup

“silhouette of people standing on highland during golden hours” by Natalie Pedigo on Unsplash

PWMAD is a Meetup group set up by Jonathan Khan for people who want to make a difference in their professional lives. Allison English, Kiran Bhovan and I share this goal, so we joined and became part of the organising committee. Lots of our 288 members have a similar challenge: they are looking for ways to make a difference in a working culture that sometimes seems to lack the opportunity. We all have to balance our values and motivations with the reality of making money to survive. This group is a place to explore how you can take small steps to more fulfilling work.

We chose the theme of leadership for our September Meetup. It’s a fascinating topic because the theory and the practice of leadership often don’t connect. People have varied views on what makes a good leader and whether they are leaders, which we wanted to explore and challenge.

Our Meetup format

* A small group so everyone would have chance to speak
* The screening of two TED talks about leadership
* Discussion pre and post the talks to see how they impacted our views

The TED talks

Learning from leadership’s missing manual by Fields Wicker-Miurin

Why good leaders make you feel safe by Simon Sinek

We talked first about what making a difference means to us. Promoting positive change, understanding problems and creating solutions, and making sustainable impacts were all suggested. The difference made could be over a short or longer time.

Then we discussed our definitions of good leadership. Suggestions were someone who gets the best out of others, inspiring and empowering, having the power of being able to drive things forward. We debated the difference between leaders and role models. After watching the above very different TED talks, we added other thoughts to the list.

From Wicker-Miurin, we considered sensitivity as a leadership characteristic. Leaders in her talk were listening to the people around them and working on problems to benefit future generations. Often they didn’t consider themselves leaders at the beginning, and perhaps not even at the end.

From Sinek’s talk, there was a strong theme of creating the right environment, building trust and a safe space for teams. We considered the idea of sacrificing numbers rather than people. A scenario in which everyone in a company accepted a small pay reduction instead of one person losing their job.

What are your thoughts on leadership? Let us know in the comments.