The 21st Century Leadership with David Gergen series at 92Y has come to an end. Last night’s event was a conversation between David Gergen and William Bratton, General Stanley McChrystal and Brigadier General Dana Born. The conversation, although not full of detailed solutions, dealt with how business and government agencies need to manage and lead and the skills that are necessary in order to create a collaborative environment.
What became apparent in the discussion is that the old way of top-down management is no longer viable. All felt that a leader’s role is more about creating a working environment in which all group members are empowered with resources and encouraged to take part in decision making processes. Collaboration is the key to success in both government agencies and in the private sector.
Commissioner Bratton said that technology and the data that is being culled from it is the only way to keep safe from terrorism in this new century. He feels that one of government’s biggest challenges is to make people understand the importance of this surveillance without feeling that their personal privacy had been invaded. He also went on to say that the number one issue in American life today is the “racial divide”. His hope is that by treating all the people in New York City with respect and civility the NYPD can be a catalyst for a resolution between racial, ethnic and social tensions.
Dana Born, now retired from the Air Force, lectures in public policy at Harvard. It is her belief that we need to be trained to “be grounded, be prepared and to step up to lead”. She said that this is what is taught at the Air Force but this exact concept has a place in the private sector as well.
Finally, all panelists agreed that the divisiveness that exists in American must be addressed. Although everyone has self-interests, it is most important to address a fundamental question. What does it mean to be an American and to be part of this nation as a whole?
I can’t say enough about the variety of programs and activities offered at the 92Y and what an important role it plays in New York, culturally, educationally and socially. Forums such as this are vitally important in a time when we are bombarded with so much information regarding national policy that is completely untempered by thoughtful critique. The Y has developed an important institution for such discussion however it has not done as well at promoting its achievements. In an informal conversation before the event, General McChrystal said that he didn’t know anything about the 92Y before being invited to speak. With the appointment of Henry Timms as Director, people like Michelle LeMay Santiago, the recently appointed as Director of Individual Giving the 92Y has made an important move to expand public awareness.
Do yourself a favor: get on an email list and stay informed about the events that the 92Y offers. You will never be disappointed. LAR