It’s impossible not to feel the pressure building in society. There’s no escape. It’s spread from media (social or otherwise) to every aspect of our lives. You may have felt it at a recent family gathering or found yourself shocked to see it show up at your daughter’s soccer game. You don’t know how to describe it, whether it’s manufactured or real, and what might happen once it pops. You know it’s growing.

We don’t seem to like each other. That’s how you’d describe it in a sentence. Maybe we never did, and maybe we’ve been here before, but something feels different.

Is it possible we do like each other, and we’re being manipulated to feel the opposite by the worst among us? The pressure doesn’t care. It just keeps growing unabated. It can’t go on like this forever. Can it?

We take the simple act of existing for granted. Or so they say. As to the charge, the defense could rest on a question: what do you expect? Sacrifices must be made to conduct one’s life agreeably. Agreeable to others, of course. No thought can be spared on the frivolous question of what we’d like to do with our existence.

You might wonder if there’s ever been a period — from the beginning of mankind to the present — when human beings have struggled more to determine the difference between the ephemeral and the eternal, between what matters and what doesn’t, where we can have an impact and where we can’t.

What we lack is leadership. That’s obvious; everyone agrees. Discord ensues on who is a good leader, how leaders should behave, and what good leadership looks like.

What do the great, revered leaders have in common? You’re unlikely to find the answer on LinkedIn. Yes, it matters what time you woke up (and that you woke up at all — what a gift!), the water’s temperature in the shower, and whether you got a workout in. That’s not leadership.

Although it is something.

One could categorize it as self-leadership. It’s a more public display of the “make your bed in the morning” concept. Meaning it’s a non-insignificant personal (and somewhat public) assessment of your ability to lead yourself. After all, if you can’t lead yourself, who’s to say you can lead others?

On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine Churchill doing a cold plunge after a five-mile run each morning. We’ve come to understand he started drinking at breakfast, constantly smoked cigars, and made time for long baths and naps in the middle of the workday. The perfect daily regimen to defeat Hitler and win World War II.

Your habits don’t make you a good leader. Too many bad ones could be your ruin. There appear to be two traits found within great leaders, past and present, that consistently manifest time and time again:

1) Inextinguishable and unlimited determination to succeed.

2) Instinctive proficiency in discerning when to convince and when to convene.

It’s unclear whether either trait can be taught, but let’s give No. 2 the old college try. We must start with definitions. In this context, the author’s definitions, as opposed to Merriam-Webster’s.

Convincer (kuhn-vins-her) noun An adult leader who perpetually attempts to convince everyone they’re smart, hold the correct opinions, and — they can’t stress this enough — unequivocally deserve to be in charge.

Convener (kuhn-veen-her) noun An adult leader capable of convening a group of people more intelligent and experienced to listen, learn from, and — they can’t stress this enough — ultimately make some damn progress.

While we desperately need conveners, we live in a world of convincers. A convincer already knows everything there is to know, and they feel obligated to convince the rest of us to hold their exact opinions or views. A convincer will project an opinion or motivation onto someone who holds no such view to allow themselves to continue convincing. A convincer’s thirst to be right can never be quenched. As a consequence, nothing is possible unless a convincer deems it so.

A convener doesn’t care about any of that. Who cares who’s right? A convener is happy to be wrong. It means they put themselves in a position to learn something and gain a perspective previously out of reach. A convener knows it’s impossible to understand one’s motives, desires, and aspirations without first engaging in constructive dialogue. A convener treats everyone like they matter, seeks understanding and progress, and knows the perfect outcome or resolution is a myth. A convener gets things done.

What would society look like if more leaders used their influence and talents to convene instead of convince?

Written by

's Profile Picture Clint Betts

CEO, Founder |