Public gestures, private committments?
Certainly the symbolic gestures of leadership are important. A big part of any leader's job is the diplomacy he or she exercises in engaging with various stakeholders, the goal being to understand the stakeholder's wants, needs and agenda. Diplomacy is an art, which is where symbolic gestures come in to play.
On the global stage of diplomacy, symbolic gestures are even more important and less forgiving. They indicate not only an art of leadership but a respect for and understanding of cultures. Even more importantly they indicate a level of empathy and caring about the stakeholder's wants, needs, and expectations. Great leaders understand the art of diplomacy and use it more naturally and effectively than others.
In the 21st century, with the command-and-control style of leadership gone, diplomatic leadership defines the better leaders, and symbolic gestures are a part of that. However, the 21st century brings with it a new twist.
Our younger generations want to know who is invited to the leader's casual, private dinner. They are continually on a quest for authenticity. They want to know that the symbolic gestures at the comparable State Dinners of any leader align with the values demonstrated at the casual, private dinner.
For any leaders, there's the rub. If public and private behavior don't align: game over, if not now, then sometime later. If they do align, and align naturally, the followers will trust, respect, and follow more easily, even when not inclined to agree.
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