Monday, November 28, 2011

Guide and Inspire

I am back blogging again after a break.

Last week I arrived back from a trip to the UK and in the pack of held mail left by the Post Office I found my November Toastmasters magazine. In it was an article called ‘Dare to Delegate’ by Judith E. Pearson. The first thing that struck me in this article was the sentence

‘Since Toastmasters leaders cannot hire or fire, they must instead guide and inspire.’

Toastmasters is a voluntary organisation so indeed leaders cannot hire and fire but many universities are in a similar position in that it is difficult to compel academics to do anything.

The second is the importance of appealing to people’s needs and values.

Some academics may see gender equality as an important value in itself, consistent with a commitment to fairness, others may see it as benefitting their institution, and there are some for whom the only effective appeal is to self-interest, for example, not following the rules can lead to wasting time, energy and money in sorting out the consequent mess.

You do not have to be in a recognised leadership position to promote gender equality but if you want to be effective then “guide and inspire” and tailor your message to the recipients actual needs and values and not to what you think they ought to be.