It has been over a year since I picked up a copy of AFR Boss. It hasn’t lost its edge. There are certainly more provocative publications on the shelves, but the thing that sets Boss apart is the audience; The Financial Review readership. Most radical mags preach to the converted.
This month’s Boss contains articles on:
- Flood clean-up volunteers in QLD
- Tips to eliminate weasel words (a regular column maybe)
- Facebook and social media
- Refugee employment programs
- ‘crowd-funding’; how social media is changing fund-raising,
- as well as an add for a AFR Boss sponsored conference on connecting the heart and mind in leadership.
The point is not to do a little promo for Boss, but rather to think about how advocacy works in the business world. The whole mag is framed around leadership: an issue front of mind for business leaders. The media is at home; that is the style and layout sit easily in a boardroom – the media doesn’t get in the way of the message. And the figurative microphone is given to peers, business people speaking to business people.
One of the reasons I’m thinking about this is the experience I had last week, working with a group of people who were fully engaged in the developing conversation being played out in the media relating to Australia’s commitment to foreign aid. The ability to speak and be heard is built on a foundation of relationship built up over many years.
Sometimes, those of us who are committed to playing a part in building a better world think that we can lever influence by the right-ness of our message. I have seen people develop anger and even bitterness when their message doesn’t get traction. But my observations from last week and my weekend reading of Boss remind me that the hard yards are in building relationships of trust; looking for common ground, the things that connect rather than divide. It is on this foundation that we can speak out for change.
But what about Egypt? Sometimes large scale change can only be achieved by revolution. However, we should be thoughtful about the difference between a forum for the competition of ideas and the abuse of power. In most cases, our primary opportunity to work for change will be to speak into forums built on relationships of trust.
What do I stand for? What are my causes? (or what am I currently complaining about? Do I care enough about it to do something?) With whom do I need to build bridges in order to engage the conversation? By all means we can build communities around the cause by long discussions with like-minded people, but lets not confuse that with advocating for change. Throwing stones from a distance is easy.