Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders

Dr. Suze Wilson - No Shared Notion of Reality

July 17, 2022 Scott J. Allen Season 1 Episode 132
Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders
Dr. Suze Wilson - No Shared Notion of Reality
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Suze Wilson,  is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Management at Massey University. She is passionate about all things leadership along with an abiding interest in how we can make organisations both effective for external stakeholders and enjoyable places to work for employees. 

Her doctoral research examined why and how it has become normalized in recent decades to equate 'leadership' with grandiose expectations of 'transformation', 'vision', and 'charisma'. She argues these ideas, when examined closely, actually create undesirable pressures on leaders, grant them excessive powers, and rely on the problematic assumption that 'followers' are inherently inadequate. She is interested in theorising and practising leadership in ways that are more inclusive and humble.

More recently, she’s written a short op-ed exploring how conspiratorialism and the so-called infodemic are undermining the good pandemic leadership we had benefitted from in New Zealand and thinking about the wider undermining of legitimate authority and the potential for a shared reality that these dangerous and toxic influences pose and what that might mean for leadership. 

Articles by Dr. Suze Wilson

A Quote From This Episode

  • "You can't even begin to lead when you have no shared notion of reality. We have no shared discourse about what is real and what isn't real. And that poses a real threat."

About The International Leadership Association (ILA)

  • The ILA was created in 1999 to bring together professionals interested in the study, practice, and teaching of leadership. Plan for ILA's 24th Global Conference online on October 6 & 7, 2022, and/or onsite in Washington, D.C., October 13-16, 2022. Register for the 24th Global Conference here!

My Approach to Hosting

  • The views of my guests do not constitute "truth." Nor do they reflect my personal views in some instances. However, they are important views to be aware of. Nothing can replace your own research and exploration.

Connect with Scott Allen

Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate and conversations-to-text do not always translate perfectly. I include it to provide you with the spirit of the conversation.

Scott Allen  0:02  
Okay, everybody, welcome to Phronesis thank you for checking in wherever you are in the world. Today. I have Dr. Suze Wilson, who is a senior lecturer in the School of Management at the University of Massey. She's passionate about all things leadership along with an abiding interest and how we can make organizations both effective for external stakeholders and enjoyable places to work for employees. her doctoral research examined why and how it became normalized in recent decades to equate leadership with these grandiose expectations of transformation and vision. Charisma. She argues that these ideas, when examined closely, actually create undesirable pressures and leaders, grant them excessive powers and rely on the problematic assumption that followers are inherently inadequate. She's interested in theorizing and practicing leadership in ways that are more inclusive, and humble. More recently, she's written a short op-ed exploring how conspiratorialism, and the so-called infodemic are undermining the good pandemic leadership. We had benefited from all across the world, specifically in New Zealand. And she's thinking about the wider undermining of legitimate authority, the potential for a shared reality that these dangerous and toxic influences pose, and what that reality might mean for leadership. She has published in the world's best journals, organization, dynamics, leadership, and Sue's; what gaps do we need to fill in? First of all, welcome; thank you for being here. But what else do listeners need to know about you? Oh, thanks,

Suze Wilson  1:43  
Scott. It's great to be here. longtime listener first time caller, right? Yes. What else do people nature? Well, I suppose in some ways, I have a little bit of an unusual background. And then I came to academia later in life having been involved in as a practitioner, you know, for for several decades. So starting off, in kind of basic factory work, then being a low Liberal government worker before I went to university, and getting involved in art, I guess, a whole range of kind of social justice activism, causes, ending up being an engaged in Student Union as a student unionism in trade unionism, and leadership roles. And that kind of thing, took me into HR management. And so I kind of had several decades of that before getting to the point of going, huh, this leadership gig is really tricky, right? And see expectations that I felt, you know, were being placed on me as someone or an executive leadership role just felt impossible to live up to. And so that was the sort of question I took into my doctoral research why are we thinking about leadership in this way? It doesn't. It doesn't seem viable. 

Scott Allen  2:58  
I love that in your bio, the grandiose expectations of what it means to be an effective leader and your doctoral work won awards from the International Leadership Association, correct?

Suze Wilson  3:12  
That was a pretty exciting day. So yes, I won the genuine award in 2014. And also, was a joint winner of the Best critical management studies doctoral thesis award that same year through the Academy of Management. So yeah, the ILA award got me a free trip to the San Diego conference, which was pretty exciting.

Scott Allen  3:34  
Well, let's jump into this topic at hand. I think we talk and write extensively about leaders and followers. But rarely do we focus on context and how it's shaping leadership. So what's been on your radar in recent times as it relates to context. What contextual factors are impacting leaders and leadership? I mean, I know that you have this interest in disinformation and how that's impacting. And you've written an op-ed recently on the topic. Let's jump into that.

Suze Wilson  4:08  
So I mean, I've been pretty focused on thinking about leadership in the context of crisis for the last couple of years of, you know, the pandemic and feeling there. What we were seeing here New Zealand was a pretty good example of effective crisis leadership compared to what we were seeing in many other countries. But more recently, seeing that really being undermined in many ways, is more and more New Zealanders have been influenced by conspiratorial worldviews. And, of course, we're not alone in that regard. There are quite a lot of common ideas, I guess, and in many countries where you see people resisting public health pressures, because they're resistant It says Russia and a rejection of scientific understandings of, of the disease and the kind of public health measures that make a difference. So what I spend on particularly noticing about our current context is the pressure off, if you like the immediate crisis of the pandemic, but that the kind of the slower burning, existential crisis of, of climate change is, you know, how it's intensifying divisiveness and polarization, intensifying distrust, then leaders frustration, that leaders can't somehow result magically resolve these problems and make life just comfortable for all of us. And, you know, in some sense, the impossibility of leading at the moment, as they, you know, a significant chunk of followers, if we have to use that language, is not prepared to tolerate the discomfort that is associated with addressing these challenges. You know, they just want somehow things to go away and would prefer to engage in wishful thinking and denialism or, you know, conspiratorial beliefs rather than confront these harsh realities, that we are actually faced with.

Scott Allen  6:16  
Well, Suze, I'm sad to hear this, because at least in my impression of the world, I thought that Jacinda Ardern, and the government and the country, you know, had, I mean, really was, in my mind, a beacon of how to lead effectively, in that very, very challenging the context of the pandemic. And I wasn't aware that some of this was even kind of infiltrating the mindset of New Zealanders. What are some examples of what you've seen, just in recent times, because at least what I understand from you is, this is a little more recent, it's, you know, in the United States, it was right out of the gates, you know, this is fake, you know, from the beginning, there were factions of people, but is this a more recent development in the mindset of the people or a faction of people I should say?

Suze Wilson  7:06  
Yeah, so definitely things Things changed started to change here around August last year, so userland hit us, you know, extraordinary, I guess privileged position for much of the pandemic. Like most countries, the outbreak started here in early 2020. But by leveraging our kind of natural advantage of being an island state but being prepared to make a bold decision and close our borders, the government was able to suppress that initial outbreak. And basically, we had months and months throughout 2020 with zero COVID in the community. Yes, occasional short outbreaks that got suppressed. And that took us all the way through to August 2021, when we had a Delta outbreak, and that couldn't be suppressed. And so we now have community transmission, that, you know, we'll never get back to elimination. But the government initially, when the outbreak happened, was still trying to get back to elimination. And so we were in a here in Tamaki Makara, Auckland, the largest study, we were in a pretty strict lockdown for about four weeks. And during that period, researchers who track disinformation and conspiratorial activity on social media saw a really rapid increase in the amount of traffic that those you know, that kind of content was attracting the government. After sort of a month, this essentially accepted elimination wasn't possible and started easing back on restrictions, pushing vaccination really hard. But really, they were quite intense restrictions until December. And as part of that, the government also put in place vaccination mandates for various professions and jobs. And that leads to people losing their jobs because of the refusal to be vaccinated. In early 2021 we started getting Omicron, which of course, is even more effective and features vaccines that are less effective in preventing transmission, although they still prevent serious illness. That's kind of conspiratorial wive was still, you know, bubbling along pretty actively in the Canadian convoy happened. It was basically picked up here, and, you know, a whole bunch of people went off to Wellington, kept on Parliament grounds, and basically took over Parliament grounds for close to a month form of protest that was really quite unusual for our country. You know, the kinds of imagery that was being shown there were extreme kinds of conspiratorial worldviews, an awful lot of really misogynistic imagery of our dune. And while there was only a couple 1000 People at Parliament, the amount of traffic again that they were getting on social media on a couple of days that actually exceeded the number of clicks that mainstream media was getting, which was an unprecedented kind of disinformation surge. You know, while the government has not wanted to indulge in any of that, they also haven't been able to be impervious to it. And so, over time, the level of collective focus on covered related restrictions has eased, and it's shifted more to your individual responsibility. So that kind of collective momentum they had carried us through for so long, and that I think a lot of us felt committed to and proud of, that's been eroded because of the divisiveness. The mandates have, by and large, been lifted, other than, you know, really in health care now. And, yeah, there is kind of a sense now of, you know, you have to look after yourself.

Scott Allen  11:17  
How did the leadership react to the activities of Parliament? How did they respond to almost this new crisis? Right, they'd been fighting one crisis, and now we have this new crisis of disinformation, it sounds like elements of extremism or at least more extreme than had previously been acceptable. How did they respond to that?

Suze Wilson  11:41  
What they did refuse to do was essentially refused to negotiate. Okay. Some people, I guess, then argued, well, that's just, that's being disrespectful, that's not helpful. You know, of course, you should meet with these people, legal citizens, they really upset. But they held they, by and large, held the line and, for the most part, had cross-party support on it because the set of demands that the protesters were advocating were really bad from a public health perspective; they were basically saying, you know, any, any COVID related restrictions should be lifted. Well, they tried to create this narrative that this was an anti-mandate party, but the reality is many people simply didn't even believe that the virus was real. I don't believe in any of the science; a lot of them are anti-Vax. And so the government was just like, Well, no, we're not going to negotiate over those sorts of issues. There is no common ground. For some people. That was the right decision because what was also notable about this protest was the level of there was like the Canadian Cold War, in that people just turned up with their trucks in their camper vans and blocked the streets around parliament. So businesses couldn't operate. Kids going to school and being spat at and abused. So the level of kind of, if you like, low-level violence was was kind of against just normal people who weren't part of the protest, trying to get to him from around the parliamentary precinct was kind of, again, something we've never seen, seen before. And so that was alienating. You know, a lot of people, you know, the local authorities were trying to get people moved along, the police took a relatively kind of low confrontation approach. But after three weeks, eventually posted, move on, and there was kind of a riot is they were, there are people were moved off. So, yeah, they generally refuse to negotiate. And I think it was one of those decisions where they were damned if they did and damned if they don't, yeah, yeah. And, you know, so many leadership judgment calls around these kinds of issues. That is where you find yourself stuck. But, you know, I think, to my own view, is to give and indulge this kind of stuff, you know, just it just gives us license. And, you know, we need to try and push back against it, not not, not fostered, but we also don't need to understand why, you know, why have people become so alienated that they're so distrustful of, of any kind of authority figure, I mean, that's, that's tearing it out chances or any kind of society. It's kind of a Hubsan world we end up if we don't keep challenging and trying to find ways to bridge those connections. I just think in the context, it was the right call, for Parliament not to be meeting people.

Scott Allen  14:49  
But it's such an interesting question, you know, the source of the disaffected, the source of the anger, the source of the Fear. I think social media plays a role in that. And that you have these individuals that are ripe for the message. And, and then that influences their behavior to that degree. Right? Of course, we saw that in the United States on January 6. And it's what's the word I'm looking for? It's jarring for certain factions of people, their lived realities, that they feel this way. There's something there, right. Yes. Interesting.

Suze Wilson  15:36  
Yeah, amen. I suppose if I had been trained as a, as a scholar in sports, conspiratorial ism, you know, I would understand the things more deeply, whereas I'm coming to it. Like, because it's, it's now so much part of the leadership context, that's what's got me interested in it. But you know, at one point, some of the protesters at Parliament, they literally had put, pulled together tin foil, and put it on their head, because they believed that somehow the government was zapping them with some kind of invisible, I don't know, X rays or something like that, that there was radiation on the concrete blocks that were being used to try and block traffic. I mean, it was just like, you would watch the stuff and just your jaw just drops. And so what planet are these people on? But that absolutely, that you can see from their conduct, they're absolutely caught up in this completely bizarre reality that to the immerse the reaction, one of the kinds of things that are going on is part of this kind of border, conspiratorial thing is, is a conspiracy theory, which has come thank you from the US, called the kind of sovereign citizens movement, who they basically do believe that authorities have no legitimate authority. And, you know, so these people are advocating that if you say to a police officer three times I do not consent, that means they have no legal authority to arrest you, even if you're breaking the law. Wow, there are people, you know, posting images suggesting that you know, are doing is actually a man or that she's actually a lizard person from another planet. That's just, it's also crazy, crazy, but people up, you know, that they are acting on the basis of these beliefs. And, you know, I try to imagine what it must be like to see the world through the lens and how terrified they must be. Really, I mean, I think the government is trying to poison us and kill us all. It must be terrifying. I mean, some of them must be sincere in the belief that they are trying to, you know, wipe the rest of our staff to understand what, what's at stake. Somehow leadership has a role to play in trying to bring people back into some sense of shared reality. Because, you know, one of the things that have really struck me, the more I've explored this stuff, and in contrasting it with, kind of what I know about leadership is so many of our leadership theories have built on this fundamental assumption, that there is such a thing as legitimate authority that people will accept, then a relatively unquestioning manner. And more and more people are not willing to buy into that. Anyone who's trying to claim legitimate authority over them will be intensively suspicious of so you can't even begin to lead when you have no shared notion of of reality. We have no shared discourse about what is real and what isn't real. And, you know, that poses a real threat. I think,

Scott Allen  18:49  
I've been reading a really interesting author as he's in the States. His name is Ray Dalio, and he runs a company called Bridgewater. And they manage, I think it's $150 billion of assets. He is very interested in kind of world history and the economic cycles, and he calls it the big cycle. China has gone through these big cycles, and China's kind of on the upswing and the US. According to his metrics, he has about 18 different metrics that he's tracking. And this has to do with just even our fiscal policy over decades and printing money and just the decisions we've made that have placed us in weaker positions. But one of the indicators is what he calls values gaps, where large factions of people start having greater and greater gaps in what it is they value and what their version of reality is right. And it's just very, very interesting, whether it's kind of fear or anger or some of these basic emotions that people are tapping into with these factions of folks. I mean, very real ramifications for leadership. Right? Yes. And even the concept of influence, because now, a video from Canada will influence a faction of people in New Zealand, and all of a sudden or the United States or wherever else in the world, and that legitimate authority is undermined.

Suze Wilson  20:20  
Yes. conservative thinking has been around for centuries. We're not we know that. I mean, it's associated with, you know, pogroms against, you know, persecution of Jews and Europe for centuries. The Salem Witch Trials, you know, so conspiratorial ism is not new. What's different is the way conspiracy theories can spread so rapidly around the globe and be picked up and given local expression. You know, so rapidly now, whereas, you know, used to be like, you know, the one village God, who was, you know, compared to the village, you know, that the world was flat, yes, but only very occasionally meet an idiot from the other fella...

Scott Allen  21:08  
You can connect with all 10,000 flat earthers very quickly!

Suze Wilson  21:13  
Yes. Of course, this gives them a sense of validation, it gives them a sense of community, it's really clear that most readily radicalization of people now happens online, you know, happens through the consumption of, you know, more and more extreme content in the way they find that is, by virtue of the algorithms, that the social media companies have to try and keep us clicking and scrolling, more and more and more. So, you know, we are being misled, you know, and it seems by non-human forces, but forces which ultimately are subject to human control, they are policy decisions made by those, those companies.

Scott Allen  21:58  
And what's so interesting also Sue's is that we're, we are clicking on it. So we also, those, those algorithms are being strengthened when we click on the fear, the anger, we're feeling it, the big tech companies are getting very, very wealthy. Media companies have figured out how to monetize the digital space. Because you know, when print died, then our whole business model died. But now, this seems to be the new revenue stream, at least in the States. It's big business, it's big business, and billions are being made on the fear and the anger. And big tech is winning. These media companies are winning because of that divisiveness, and so kind of is we were going back and forth in this in this dialogue. Before we got online today, just via email, I put that in there of like, how do we monetize the middle? How do we monetize? How do we monetize? Good, reasonable human beings?

Suze Wilson  23:06  
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that's sort of I mean, I don't I don't think there's absolutely any easy answer. When we get pressure on social media companies to be, you know, to act in a socially responsible manner, you know, that has to be sustained. And I mean, I think in that regard, you know, Elon Musk, buying Twitter is a real worry, because Twitter is already a hellscape, you know, as it is, but, you know, at least it was, it had some capacity, you know, that you could get if you, particularly if you got involved in campaigns to report, you know, people who were posting offensive content, you could maybe get them suspended, maybe getting them blocked, but has kind of absolutist, you know, free speech, lunacy. You know, when it's not a defensible proposition, in my view, you know, never in society have people had an absolute right, to say anything, you know, to anyone I, you know, I cannot walk down the street and just shout abuse at people and expect to get away with it. And that's what he's saying should be permitted. Online, you know, nice notice, society has ever allowed that. So that, you know, there doesn't need to be policies instead, but I think, you know, we also have to, there's a lot that can be done to try and, you know, I'm thinking here of Commons Thinking Fast and Slow, to be mindful of when we're thinking fast, you know, and to try and get out of that, out of that system and to be more reflexive and to not have seen, you know, with the angry tweet, you know, to come back with something more reasoned, you know, in the hope that they will kind of foster dialogue rather than division, but also, you know, to know when someone is just cynically, trying to get in your timeline and into fuel outrage and just to block and de-platform, there's a bit of strategy. The other thing is, you know, I think we just have to kind of not lose sight of, you know, ancient wisdom that comes down from, you know, multiple traditions about the importance of prudence or of acting in a judicious and thoughtful manner of not being selfish, if considering the consequences of your actions, all of those kinds of wisdom traditions, are all really pro-social, and what they, they ask about us, in that they ask that we not indulge our worst, you know, our worst instincts. So, you know, we have to kind of keep coming back to those as the things that will, you know, allow us to survive, because fueling the outrage will just take us down worse on this track for sure. The risk is the, the more and more that happens, the more and more people then look to authoritarian style of leadership is the solution to just kind of quash it all. And they will, then we do lose important freedoms and liberties. I'm quite sure that in some states, China and Russia don't have the same kinds of problems. But there's because they're authoritarian states. And I don't see that as a solution to the problems that we have here. And liberal democracies have an environment where increasingly anything goes even if it's made of bad shot, right. So I don't I'm not advocating for the strong arm approach to leadership either. Find a difficult middle ground.

Scott Allen  26:39  
Yes. I mean, it's a very, very interesting puzzle. How do you lead in this context? And I actually, in some ways, very much respect New Zealand, how the government dealt with that relatively very small faction of people. If it was a couple of 1000, I understand that there were probably more who weren't there and more who have that mindset. But yes, as soon as we lose a sense of what our shared values are, what right and wrong are or what truth is. And again, I understand the arguments of different lived realities. And that's, that's a very interesting conversation. But there are some truths. I can't look at the police officer and say, I do not consent. I do not consent. That can't be

Suze Wilson  27:31  
I can't, but no, I mean, not. I mean, we don't something unless you want to go out and live in the bush and be completely damaged. Yeah, yeah, you know, we all of us have to exceed certain limitations in order to be in society; we can't have things all our own way. I can't choose to drive down the wrong side of the road just because I feel like it, and I want to say, well, that's my expression of my individuality. It's like, no.

Scott Allen  27:57  
Well, one interesting observation, at least in the United States, that I had over the course, of the last couple of years, the last two years. What's really interesting, at least, and I'd love to get your opinion on this. A good friend of mine is in public health. A good friend of mine is in a very, very, very successful, very well-known, and well-respected public health institution in the United States. And I said to him, Look, you know, it feels like you all are losing command of the narrative. And, and he said to me, he said, Look, we've We are scientists, we report the data, and the data speak, and decisions are made. But we've never had to really think about commanding the narrative, or we've never had to think about influencing large factions of people, at least in recent times. Right. And so it's very, very interesting. This, you know, how do leaders influence that narrative and today's context, whether that's the use of social media, there has to be a better way of communicating those shared values, communicating the narrative in a way that reaches because it's not working right now. And large in many ways, right. There commanding the narrative?

Suze Wilson  29:18  
Yes. A couple of thoughts. There's, firstly, we can't think of it as a pyramid process. But that's, that's a much more distributed. Yes. Because we, we listen to those we trust, a significant part, although arguably not significant enough. But so basically, we're sorry that a significant part of the government's effort to persuade people to get vaccinated here has been about devolving that work to local community providers within Maori culture, traditional the kind of the Fiat the village scene was called the MRI next week The Meeting House, the sets were all important meetings of the community happen. Traditionally, people used to that also be houses, and people would live on them. All right, but many urban Moiri out in town and city centers, it's just a meeting house and things, you know, since Sunday and associated so many are involved in health care provision now and that giving them funding to do outreach into the community was absolutely key to getting Maori vaccination rates up because they were falling behind when the government had a more centralized approach because people did not necessarily trust white, record Pakia health providers, they wanted, it needed to be localized. And similarly, church communities have been an incredibly important part of the vaccination program. So my dad was actually working on the vaccination program during the rollout last year. And you know, so many churches opened up, opened up their doors, and we're running vaccine centers through them to bring in members of the congregation because the fact that the local pastor says, Here I am, watch me get fixated, I'm okay. Coming, bringing the rest of the congregation to the process. So we have to understand that if we're trying to shift something on a large scale, we have to distribute that effort. We have to give as much power or authority and knowledge and support as possible to people who are operating as a collective people because people we believe those we trust.

Scott Allen  31:44  
Yes. Oh, that's so well said. That's such an interesting tactic. I'm sure elements have existed of that. If that existed in my community. I'm not aware of it. So for me, it's a new idea. It's a new way of thinking about okay, yeah, that makes perfect sense. I mean, it probably occurred in the United States that vaccination centers were in places of worship. I just hadn't heard that. Right. But it makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense. Can you think of other ways of thinking about how you influence individuals? I mean, I love that idea.

Suze Wilson  32:20  
So New Zealand has done pretty well with its vaccination uptake. So we've got over 90% of adults double dosed about seven. So we, the main vaccine here, are the Pfizer thing. So we're about, I think, 70% triple-dosed, and rollout is still happening. We're about halfway there for the first dice. So that's about for that slider. So to try and build support for that. There's been a lot of emphasis on, you know, obviously, this helping people to understand the science of it, but trying to have those messages, again, conveyed by people who were trusted. So I know, for example, of a Maori doctor who's hit home ran a whole program of visits to prisons to speak to Maori principles because we know prisons are generally very high-risk environments, and people who are incarcerated generally don't trust authority figures, right. So it had to be someone from a community that they felt they were members of, a lot of use of, if you like, kind of social media influences. People in bands, people involved in platforming via support for vaccination. We had a kind of a national day of action at one point at the telethon. Do you know how to tell finance?

Scott Allen  33:48  
I know a telethon? are we defining it the same way where I'm on the phone? And I'm calling

Suze Wilson  33:53  
You know, kind of run for 24 hours on the TV and, you know, lots of local feeds and silly events and that sort of thing. So, you know, we kind of had one of those days, you know, a day of kind of a vaccination National Day. Yeah. Which I have to say is solid, fascinatingly bad TV.

Scott Allen  34:17  
An experiment in this, these wicked problems, this VUCA context that we exist in, we're running experiments to see how we, I mean, because 90% did you say 90%? Were double vaxed. And 70 triple? I mean, yeah, that has to be leading the world.

Suze Wilson  34:36  
It's, it's, it's close to, yeah, yeah. Some countries are better, but it's pretty good. Yep. So yeah, so there was a lot of emphasis, I think, on providing information, but distributing who was kind of buying that messaging, allowing them to tailor those messages in a way that was suitable and used vehicles, platforms, channels. If that were relevant, if I listened to anything on Spotify here, I'm still getting routinely aids because I don't have a Spotify account. You know, depending on which artists I'm listening to that the ads will be different because they're, they're clearly targeted to what demographic, they think that's listening to the honest. And these are, you know, these are government-paid ads. But you know, they're using people that people would trust to try and convey that message. So a lot of trying to build a sense of collective ownership and effort around. And that's been really the big shift from sort of the last quarter of last year as we're fighting the outbreak and trying to drive up vaccination rates to where we are now as a big shift from collective effort and collective responsibility to now you've got the tools here, the policies,

Scott Allen  35:49  
and if you know, you're in that last 10%, you know, you have resources if you need them, leaders have to be thinking, how some of the examples you just shared, I think, absent of us thinking that way, then you're leaving it open to whatever other narratives are going to emerge and take over. And, of course, then again, once those even hints of those other narratives emerge, the media latches on, we click, and the algorithm elevates these people to make money. It becomes bigger in our own heads and becomes real in some cases. And if something isn't combating that, or if I'm going with the normal way of well, I said it at the press conference. Well, a tiny teeny faction of people learned about your press conference; we need to do this differently. Right. 

Suze Wilson  36:42  
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. I mean, I think that you know, certainly, for heads of state, they have to, you know, understand, while they, in some sense, be responsible for articulating a message. If that message is not being picked up and translated by multiple other influences, then not much was going to happen in reaction. Because there are so many people, who are just never going to engage with mainstream media to hear that message in the first place. They're often their own little bubble. Yep. Confirmation bias.

Scott Allen  37:17  
Yep. So let's, let's keep this conversation going. Let's keep this this this narrative about the larger context. And let's keep thinking about what does it mean to influence in the digital age? What is that, again, the leader may stand up and give a speech. But is that speech effective in shifting public mindset, narrative, pride, ownership values, you know, shifting and shaping values and shared values? And I think at times we're losing that war, or the leader is losing that war. And so a different approach to that influence and thinking about how we influence even again if it's pride if it's just the good that's happening because again, that gets lost as well. All of the good that's happening gets buried, which then also creates, this distorted perception of the world.

Suze Wilson  38:18  
Yes. I mean, I think one of the challenges we've had here has been quite unrealistic expectations about what the government, or any government frankly, could or could not, couldn't do. At times they kind of beat up because something wasn't perfectly done. You know, I will just be looking at it and just go, what do you expect? How could I have got it perfectly right? And these circumstances give them a break? Are they doing relatively better than most? Okay, awesome. You know, be grateful for that. And are our leaders showing signs that they're trying to learn and adapt? Continuously? Is information changes seeking to change? Yes. Okay. So, so give them support, don't just tear them down because it wasn't perfect. But there's certainly been a really strong element of that and the narrative all the way through, and I've found it incredibly Excel.

Scott Allen  39:17  
Well, then to circle back to where we started today. Part of that is that narrative of the great leader, the charismatic leader, the perfect transformational leader. No, that doesn't exist; it never has in history. It didn't, but we lionize that individual as, Wow, oh my gosh, and of course, the only stories you hear about some of these individuals is the great good, but they had foibles, too many of them. Right. And I think it does the work a disservice if that's the bar we're setting, so I love that part of your work because I think it's, that's no person, right? But no one is that...

Suze Wilson  40:06  
Such a seductive? Yes, it's such it's been such a dominant force in our field. Yep. It's just so long Of course, that's been what flows through to what people are taught. Yes. You know, so and so we kind of feed the cycle of expecting perfection, you know, all the while. All the while knowing that really it's impossible. I worry, you know, times the leadership educators are potentially setting the students up for, you know, actually a pretty significant degree of existential angst when they realize, Oh, my God, I'm not transformational. But I was working on the budget today. And that seemed quite important. It's like, yes, those mundane things actually are quite important. You know, Leadership isn't kind of all floating up here being visionary and highfalutin. There's a lot of just daily practical grind that happens in organizations that matters, and we shouldn't denigrate the value of that, that work. And nor should we indulge the fantasy that there are a few exceptional people who are gonna save the rest of us from ourselves.

Scott Allen  41:20  
So well said, Suze. Real quick, because we need to wind down. What have you been listening to, reading, or watching streaming? What's caught your attention in recent times?

Suze Wilson  41:32  
So I have to say I watch everything, you know, anything I watch on TV, I always watch it through the lens of, of leadership. And so, the last couple of months, I've been binging on succession. Yes. Which I just think has a really fascinating narrative when you say it through leadership, and you know, the way the patriarch controls and manipulates the family, and everyone else is in thrall to his leadership, putting air quotes around. So I think that's a great series to watch through the lens of leadership to notice occasional moments when people try to do something positive but are mostly caught up in this toxic weave and how difficult it is to break free of that because you are caught exposed at that point that you're trying to do something different. Yeah. So that would be one thing. And you're reading a lot about trying to understand conspiratorial ism. Yeah. Yeah, my jaw is dropping a lot the more I read, the more I learn. So sadly, it's become not at the margins. Now. I think it's a significant issue that leadership scholars need to turn some attention to.

Scott Allen  42:54  
I had a wonderful conversation with Joanne Ciulla, and she was talking about just a kind of resentment and the emotion of resentment. And I think the challenge in the last couple of years is the challenge in the last couple of years. But for listeners, scholars for just interested individuals, there are a lot of dynamics right now that are ripe for exploration that we need to better understand. And I think there's an opportunity there for interested individuals to help us better understand some of these dynamics so that we can come up with ways to keep ourselves within the boundaries.

Suze Wilson  43:40  
I mean, I think the more we connect, you know, bringing our leadership means to significant issues, the more contribution we can make. I mean, I think, you know, leadership has leadership, scholars could be doing a lot more helping the work around climate change and climate change, you know, the kind of transition to a zero carbon economy, we've got ideas that we could bring to, you know, to bring tailor-made advice, kind of challenge. You know, and there are lots of lots of other issues that I think if we lean into that if we work with that kind of transdisciplinary cross-disciplinary makes us rather than just kind of being purist and abstracted, we can add insights that could help people,

Scott Allen  44:28  
because that's another great example that we could spend a lot of time discussing. But the client climate scientists have not effectively communicated or influenced a large enough faction of people yet to take serious considerable measures to combat where we're headed. And we could get into arguments about the nuances. But the reality is humans have had an impact on the planet in a number of ways, and the numbers are not going in good directions as India is, you know, or Pakistan is at record highs and temperature. What are we going to do to combat that regardless of the source so that we can live in a, you know, in a world that is inhabitable? And so, that's another ripe example of the scientists haven't yet influenced a large enough faction to take action. And again, that might be part of the human condition. Right. Now, being proactive about changing Seuss, you're coming back, and we're going to talk more. Will you please? Yeah. Laughter. Okay, we because we have more to discuss. But I'm really, really looking forward to continuing this dialogue and continuing this conversation because I think this is a contextual shift. That has major ramifications on the Work of Leaders, and how leaders navigate that is critical. It's absolutely critical to our success. And thank you for the good work that you do. And I'm looking forward to our next chat.

Suze Wilson  46:15  
Thanks, Scott. It's really great to chat with you to be well.

Scott Allen  46:19  
You too.

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