As a guest blogger, Dave reflects on leadership and his observations at the 2018 NAIS Annual Conference.
This year’s theme for NAIS’ Annual Conference is The Leadership Journeyand today’s two keynote speakers, Adam Grant and Navi Radjou, ably spoke about the moral imperatives of leadership. Certainly that is a message needed in a day and age when it seems like most of our leaders, in government, in entertainment, and in sports seem to be more concerned about power than service. One question that was not entertained is, “If leadership is about using power for the greater good why does so much of the world seem to be headed in the opposite direction?”
Yet that question is for smarter minds than mine. So I want to observe something else I noted at the keynotes. Less smart phone use. This is one person’s view with perhaps a blindness caused by my hope and my perspective, but I noted more people listening today and less people answering mail, tweeting and otherwise splitting their attention. I even noted more people leaving the hall, indicating they, too, did not want to spit their attention. If the talk was not worth their time, it is not worth all of their time. Instead of staying and ignoring the speaker and doing neither well, they left to do something else, I hope, in a wholehearted way.
What got me thinking of this is the trending New York Times article For Two Months, I Got My New From Printed Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned. The author, Farhad Manjoo, talked about the benefits of giving up getting news from online sources including social media. He claimed that by reading a physical paper his news comprehension was better. The news produced less anxiety, and he enjoyed needing to filter out less rumors and incorrect reports. Instead of getting information instantly, he was later to the news but he could focus on it and understand more deeply.
As a culture, I think we need to focus more on the substantive, less on the instant, more on the bigger picture which takes time to understand and create. More importantly, we need to help our students do that. Maybe today was an indication that the adults pendulum is swinging back to attention. Maybe today was a small indicator of an important start.
*Dave has guest blogged for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conference since 2017.