As with many folks I am eagerly waiting for the return of Mad Men tonight. It has been too long. This weekend I am watching several episodes from last season to get caught up. No, I am not writing a post on the leadership approach by Don Draper (main character), but hum … someday.
What caught my eye was a scene where Faye told Don a story to make a point about persuasion. It was an old-fashioned fable as in an Aesop Fable from when we were kids. When I looked up this fable online it is often labeled as a “Children’s Story”. Alas, we know better that this is a fable for us adults too.
The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveler coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveler to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.”
So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveler. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveler wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair.
Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveler, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
Don asks what this means and Faye says that “kindness, gentleness, and persuasion win where force fails.”
This reminds me of two things. The first is a core influence for me concerning my education as an anthropologist. While I moved into business vs. the jungle (wait, is there a difference) I held onto my learning in anthropology. From this grounding I have a standing belief that we have forgotten more than we have learned. We are searching today as leaders for the next thing or discovery. Well maybe it has been with us all along as in how to interact with people and gain their support to influence their behavior (the sun in our fable) and be a leader.
The second thing I am reminded of is my attachment to “Push vs. Pull”. I get this from my studies of Systems Thinking once I entered grad school and got serious about studying organizational development. You see the connection too - the Wind Pushes, the Sun Pulls. While leaders have to know when to push, our base approach needs to align with behaviors associated with pulling folks forward.
How will you get someone to take off their cloak today?