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For the Greater Good

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The themes of my writing have been, in large part, consistent since the early 90s - my message has been: Listen.

In the past 37 years, I have contributed to or written in my own right several books. The themes of my writing have been, in large part, consistent since the early 90s (when Penguin first published Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained, and subsequently Woodslane Press – now part of Allen & Unwin – published Naked Truth, an open letter to the Australian Working Community and a few years later, Three Spirits of Leadership).


My message has been: Listen.


This might sound trite but from an early age I was suspicious that we weren’t listening to each other, or if we were listening, it was only long enough for a pause, to allow us to start talking.

Listening for me meant that we needed to listen more effectively to friends, to members of our family, to the people we work with and for. My second book was all about listening to people who work and what it is they wish leaders could provide.

Back in the early 90s, the message was crystal clear; people wanted a sense of purpose, to do work that had meaning. They wanted to be heard, to have a voice shaping their individual and collective future. People wanted the chance to take risks, to make mistakes and learn. They wanted freedom and inclusion, collaboration, and clarity.

Today, we still want the same things, and we still want to be heard, perhaps more than ever.


However, the pandemic has changed things, for all of us. Being heard is going to have (if not already) significantly more meaning; we want to be heard by politicians about what we want them to do, as our elected representatives, to protect our future. We want employers to hear our need to be valued and to have a voice. And we need friends and family to value us and our perspective, no matter our choices.

If we don’t feel heard, many of us will vote to leave; to leave our country, our work, our family. We value belonging, as always, but only if we truly belong.

Paying attention to other people takes time and will. Sometimes you must slow down to listen and that’s something our world struggles with. We are so busy.

But slow down and listen we must. The evolution of generational values used to stretch over a very long period, sometimes a hundred years or more. Then it contracted to a 25-year period, representing real generations. Then it stopped being generational and started to contract to 5-year slots. And now? Perhaps it’s almost disappeared entirely, although we still talk about Millennials and Gen X as if there was clarity around what they want. I don’t think there is, except marginally.


Mostly they want what we have always wanted.


Wharton’s Adam Grant refers to the current ‘Great Resignation’ as the ‘long march to freedom’. He proposes that the change in what we want from work has been going on for a decade. I think it’s been going on far longer than that.

I think we are forming true communities of practice (coming together for common purpose, values, place). If what is important to me isn’t important to you, then we just need to move on. If who I am and how I behave doesn’t fit with your world view, fine, we just move on.

We are in the middle of this transition, and I confess, it’s not pretty. Even in egalitarian, apolitical Australia, Covid is building divides: vaccinated or not, that’s a big one. Can you come to my home, or me to yours? Do I understand how you came to have your beliefs and believe them to be facts, do you understand the same for me?

We are struggling and perhaps voting by leaving.

We want to be heard but maybe we don’t know how to listen.


Fabian Dattner

Founder, Speaker, Senior Consultant & Coach


To find out how we can help you, please contact us at Dattner Group.