Reunion: Leadership and the Longing to Belong
HarperBusiness/An Imprint of HarperCollins (November 2023)
All great leaders attract, welcome, include, and nourish those who share a compelling vision
According to Jerry Colonna, here’s the WHAT: “reuniting with those from whom we have been separated and overcoming the disunity that comes from this radicalization, classification, and Othering of individuals.”
Here’s the WHY: “We meet this task not to further promulgate the myths of sameness but to provide the basis of a leadership that is of, for, and about the well-being of the dispossessed and disinherited.
He wrote this book in order to explain HOW.
Long ago in ancient Athens, the word “barbarian” was added during a discussion of international trade. It’s literal meaning: non-Greek.
I mention this because, in my opinion, one of the most effective separators of individuals and groups throughout human history is the “non” bias. However different they may have been in most respects, all great leaders attracted a wide variety of followers…and they continue to attract followers (believers, really. if not evangelists) long after their death. Jesus of Nazareth is an excellent example. However, among Christian denominations, there are Catholics (Anglican, Greek, Roman, and Russian) separated from each other as well as from Jews, Muslims, and those of any other religion. Social differentiation, separation, rejection, and discrimination can do great damage…and usually does.
I agree with Emma Colonna: “Dad…it’s not enough to be an ally. You’ve got to be a co-conspirator.” Her father also agrees with her. As he acknowledges, “it isn’t enough to overcome system Othering and answer the longing for belonging….[We must] put ourselves back together by recalling our ancestors, refeeling their fears and hopes, and restoring their and our wholesomes by retelling the story of which we are the latest chapter. Do this well, and we lay the ground for a new, more generative encounter with ‘the other,’ rooted in thecradical notion that across all lines of difference, ‘your story is my story, too.'”
In this brilliant book, Jerry Colonna shares his “story,” one that embraces much in common with countless others who long to belong. We can become — indeed we must become — co-conspirators within collective leadership to avoid or overcome radicalization, classification, and Othering of individuals in months and years to come.
His thoughts about leadership again remind me of this passage in Lao-tse’s Tao Te Ching:
“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”
Here are two suggestions to keep in mind while reading Reunion: Highlight key passages, and, record your comments, questions, action steps (preferably with deadlines), page references, and lessons you have learned as well as your responses to the questions posed within the narrative. These two simple tactics — highlighting and documenting — will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent reviews of key material later.