A Leader Cannot Afford to be Out of Touch


Earlier this week I saw a great example of an out of touch leader. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan demonstrated how out of touch he is with America's youth. Senator Ryan demonstrated his dissonance when 17-year old Cal Marshall moved his face down to his forearm while he and his family posed for photographs at Tuesday’s swearing in. Confused by the Cal’s action Mr. Ryan thought the young teen was sneezing and did not know the young man was “dabbing”. Dabbing is a viral dance move popularized by US athletes and rappers, and embraced by teenagers as an irreverent or celebratory gesture.

Watching Senator Ryan’s response to Cal’s behavior is not only comical but also reminds me of what Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee defined as dissonant leadership. In the book, Primal Leadership these scholars defined dissonant leadership as being out of touch with the feelings of the people in the room. Moreover, because Senator Ryan is not aware of what is trending in America, the creditability of his leadership is tainted. In fact, not being aware of what is trending in America questions how can Senator Ryan possible make sound decisions for Americans; especially its youth.

All things considered, the important lesson to learn here is that leaders must be knowledgeable about trends in order to progress. As a leader, being aware of what is trending not only allows you to understand and connect with individuals but also equips you with an opportunity to foresee the next phenomenon.

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