I was recently at the second [City of Powell River] council meeting in a row where the room was filled to capacity. The crowd was responding to the issue of bottling water as an economic stream for Powell River [“City of Powell River reverses water bottling decision,” June 19].
Over 200 letters were written and there was a clear message being delivered to council. During the meeting, I felt a power shift in the room, subtle but very significant. It got me thinking about what it means to be a leader in such precarious times.
Well, as it turns out, it depends on who you ask. When I asked my aunt she was quick to respond: “A leader should be smart, fair and able to make good decisions.”
When I asked my niece she said: “A good leader must be collaborative and able to engage the community in decision-making partnerships.”
Why the difference and what does it mean for those at the helm?
My aunt was part of what history refers to as the Silent Generation, born between 1927 and 1945. This generation saw the Great Depression, World War II, and the beginning of the Cold War.
Core values include community, struggle, sacrifice and national honour. The Silent Generation was reluctant to criticize organizational leadership and stewardship in a time of extreme patriotism. They elected leadership expecting them to make decisions on their behalf. They had trust.
My niece is a GenXer, born between 1965 and 1981 in a time of materialism and abundance. This is the generation that saw one institution after another fail to deliver on their promises. They are first to experience the “race to the bottom” of commercial radio and television.
GenXers are described as unimpressed with authority, distrustful of institutions and are generally disengaged from traditional politics. They see greater potential for leadership and progressive thinking in their community of peers than in elected officials and they want their voice to be heard.
We are in a time of transition and for elected officials this is a challenging tightrope. The demographics are shifting. Those demanding to be included will be the dominant voice and leadership will have to respond.
Maureen Mason, Cranberry Street