The leader(s) in charge drive the culture

There are many fascinating responses to my RFL post this week on the importance of the family meal.  Included among them, Professor Bill Doherty weighs in on the research he’s done and about which I wrote.

I was struck with how two sets of seemingly contradictory comments reveal the same point.  Many of those who have commented so far tell wonderful stories of how they created rituals – around the meal or otherwise.  Meanwhile others complain – and who wouldn’t appreciate their complaints? – about how hard it is in crazy busy times to have an old-fashioned dinner. These are two sides of the same coin. 

They are joined in this way: the central job of the leader-in-charge is to drive the culture, to shape the culture, and not just be “at the effect” of broader influences.  If a business is lethargic the CEO has to light it up.  If a city is unsafe the mayor has to work towards safety.  If a team is demoralized the coach’s job is to turn that around.  Authorized leaders are responsible for creating and not simply tolerating a way of life.

Families are profoundly challenged by the world around them.  We live in a time where over-activity is everywhere.  We live in a broader culture, where the news media reflects profound cynicism, and the commercial media promotes materialism and self-gratification at every level.  The role of those of us who lead families is not to cave in to these influences of the broader culture, but to create sub-cultures of health and hope and harmony (and harmony involves different notes played at the same time).  The family meal is a mighty place to begin to shape the subculture.  It’s a great place to lead with your best self.