In our countries, communities and workplaces, we do benefit and gain strength and sustainability when our leaders are committed to unity, being representative of the greater good and being mindful in their actions so that universal values and social norms are fostered and prevailing.
However, too many of our leaders are not representative of the culture or group they were appointed or voted to represent. That in isolation is not the problem. The problem is when those divergent leaders aspire to change their social environment in their own image, to impose their own ideologies, prejudices and vices on those they purport to lead. In this context, deviation from the norm can include radical, fundamentalist, autocratic and self-interested leadership styles. That does not serve any community or societies’ best interests.
Nevertheless, our societies are comprised of diversity at so many levels, ever more so in this 21st century in the era of globalisation, ease of international travel, refugees displaced by wars, world trade, and the internet. Among the human species, we are diverse in colour, creed, language, culture, economic status, and much more.
Yet diversity is the landscape of flexibility, sustainability, joy and wonder, opportunity and perspective, and reality. To converge our diversity, in any form or substance, is to jeopardise our futures and compromise our present. Our best leaders embrace diversity, with a convergent leadership style. They seek to represent the mainstream and the normal, to honour well accepted and functional universal values, while seeking to reconcile and incorporate those with divergent behaviours, personalities and cultures.
Sadly, too many of our divergent leaders seize and retain power through wealth, celebrity, autocracy, inheritance or via the propagation of fear. They achieve leadership to serve their cronies, to massage their egos and to facilitate change that serves their self-interests.
In democratic societies, or among those who aspire to remaining so, we must be vigilant to discourage and protect against the growth of such divergent leadership. Failure to do otherwise shall lead to loss of autonomy, loss of diversity and loss of a balanced, relatively safe and compassionate society.
Think of the consequences, when you next choose to vote, or who you vote for, since those withe divergent leadership styles and less convergent values are least likely to act as honourably as you might expect.