The December 31, 2012, issue of Newsweek magazine was the last print edition.  After years of analysis and planning, Newsweek decided it was time to end an era and move to a purely online format.

In looking at all we learn from Newsweek’s history, diversity development is definitely a hot topic.  In 1978 when Lynn Povich proposed a cover story on the changing role of men (as opposed to women), she was mocked by her peers.  Ultimately, Povich’s idea won and the cover story went to print.  The cover illustration showed a man in an apron cooking as he gazes down to a little girl clutching her doll.  Reflecting on that watershed episode, Povich pondered a much larger question (“When Women Said ‘No’” 12/31/12 pp. 44–50):

“‘Were we ahead of the times or just reflecting the times?’” (p. 48)

That is always the million-dollar question, now isn’t it?  Povich raises the proverbial inquiry to us all—Are we on the crest of the wave or are we just catching it after it hits the beach?  Which is it?

The vanguard business leader is ahead of the times.  The mediocre business leader may just be reflecting the times.  I think in many cases it is a bit of a combination of both.

Being ahead of the times is where we all want to be as business leaders.  Our strategies and plans bring maximum profit when that occurs.  Nevertheless, there is no dishonor in merely reflecting the times.  Reflecting the times at least communicates you are up to the times.  The unforgiveable sin is to be behind the times.  Go there, and your customers will disappear.

As businesspeople, we can all benefit from Povich’s question.  Apply it to your situation today.  Are you ahead of the times or just reflecting the times?  Pay close attention to the answer.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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