As a mentor, I have helped my staff and other community members learn how to engage people and deal with different situations. I also try to set a good example and help people to engage in advocacy, empowerment, and self-directing their lives. As a mediator I work to resolve community conflict, especially in situations where people have strong feelings or may not understand the whole picture.
As a monitor, I am also very engaged in working with people who contact us because they feel they have been discriminated against. We know their rights, and we work with businesses and organizations to help ensure that these people are heard. Being a mobilizer is my favorite role, and where I have been most involved. My work has focused on systems change and making social change in our community, our politics, and our policies to support fairness and equality for people with disabilities. This has been the most challenging and the most rewarding role. We advocate on each individual’s own behalf but do not tell the community what it needs to do. Instead, we mobilize the community to see what is best for each individual, and what each wants to do to make that change on his or her own behalf. This approach has had excellent success.
What does all of this mean? What have we learned from our 100 interviews with Emerging and Senior Sage leaders about the complex processes of Generativity Two? We conclude, first, that Generativity Two doesn’t occur overnight. It is a gradual, transforming process that is a central ingredient, as Erik Erikson noted, in the developmental process of any maturing adult. We must be patient, in particular, about the emergence of Generativity Two as a leadership style or perspective. We don’t learn about Generativity Two from a textbook on leadership. Rather, we learn about it by observing and personally experiencing the generative role played by other leaders. And we learn how to be generative through our own accumulated positive and negative experiences in our work within organizations and communities:
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My leadership style has greatly changed over the years. When you’re working for a living and have people working for you, it’s a whole different approach to getting things done. If you were getting paid to do a job, I expected you to do it. That’s the way we were brought up, and that’s the way we learned to manage things. There’s more control involved, and more downside. What I’ve taken away—what’s been good for me—is that I don’t need to be a controlling person anymore. I don’t need to say, “Why didn’t you get that done?” I’m a lot more appreciative of people. We’re all volunteers, and I’m very appreciative of what these people do. And I’ve found it much easier to be personable with people that I don’t even know, like a walk-on volunteer. I feel very comfortable with that person because I know they want to get involved in doing something for Habitat. I don’t need to be controlling or measuring. I like to just lay it out there and say, “How are we going to get from here to here by this time?” It works.