Leadership and an authentic voice: Ben Hanisch

Posted 14 September 2018
News

Over the last couple of weeks, we have begun the process of choosing our leaders for 2019. An aspect of leadership that really interests me is the notion of authenticity. Part of being an authentic leader is an ability to find your own authentic voice. Particularly in this day and age, this is not an easy thing to do. The instant gratification afforded by social media coupled with an endless stream of data telling us how smart we are, how many steps we’ve taken in a day, what our heart rate is, and even how we’re feeling emotionally makes the search for self even harder because all of this information is distracting and comes from outside. This makes it increasingly difficult to look within and find that inner voice or inner being; our own truth if you like. Nevertheless, uncovering one’s own truth is really important because of the complex challenges, questions and moral conundrums that all of us will confront in our lives.

Even though finding out who we are and discovering our authentic voice is not easy, it doesn’t mean that we simply give up the quest. There are compelling reasons why it’s worth sticking at this task. For those aspiring to be leaders at St Peter’s College this is particularly important because at some stage over the next year, they may well be faced with a complicated situation that requires them to make a difficult decision: Do they tell their friend to take down a post from social media; do they call another student out for the way he’s talking about women; do they have a quiet word with a mate about the way he’s talking to the younger boys in their House?

It’s through knowing the truth of who we are as humans, that our values and morals become clear. As a result, we will be better placed to confidently make even the most difficult of decisions. Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mocking Bird talked about this very thing 56 years ago when he reflected on his role in defending a young African American man wrongly convicted of assaulting a white woman. “They’re certainly entitled to think that,” he told his daughter Scout (about the townspeople gossiping about him), “And they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” Once we learn how to truly live in union with that inner being and its voice, and whether anyone is watching or not, we will put ourselves into a position to make good decisions that sit comfortably within our moral parameters.

I therefore challenge those of you about to engage in the leadership application process to carefully think about who you really are. My challenge to the broader community is to help them uncover their inner truth by encouraging them to be authentic humans. Pro Deo et Patria.

Ben Hanisch
Deputy Headmaster/Head of Senior School