Posted: 30 Jan 2011 11:50 PM PST
What are the business lessons from events in Tunisia, Egypt and other restive Arab countries?
Fundamentally: Education + Connection ≠ Obedience
The illusion of control can only exist in a population while that population are uneducated and disconnected.
And obedience diminishes with education and connection. Obedience is not replaced with disobedience, so much as it is replaced with personal responsibility.
As people are better educated and more connected they become more willing and more capable of taking responsibility and less willing to submit to authority.
For governments this means that repression is inconsistent with a society where there is a requirement for a critical number of “knowledge” workers. A small number is manageable as a privileged elite, once that number gets too big it is no longer manageable.
Ergo – if a government wants to retain control of it’s people, it cannot also seek modernity on any scale, because it cannot educate enough people and still maintain control.
For business it is the same, just at a different level. Businesses requiring a high level of personal responsibility, creativity, connectivity and intellect cannot also expect to control or incentivise staff with carrot and stick type approaches.
Ergo – if a business wants creativity, innovation and responsibility from it’s staff it has to trust them, empower them and ensure that the work they are doing is meaningful for them.
For example; few businesses at the leading edge of innovation today, clock work hours, restrict internet use, operate repressive HR policies, count holidays or tightly control expenses. Staff are simply asked to achieve their team goals and given the resources, alignment and the freedom to do it.
For this to work requires a higher level of leadership than is common in control based environments. It requires a level of leadership that is comfortable in it’s own skin, has the confidence to encourage everyone to be the best they possibly can, even if it means surpassing the leader and critically has the courage and confidence to do the right thing, to truly lead, to take responsibility and criticism when appropriate.
This is what I call Authentic Leadership. It is the highest level of leadership yet identified and it is what our businesses and our society requires to create the kind of society we want – one that is peaceful, sustainable and fulfilling for all.
More on Authentic Leadership.
Magic Monday – the compilation of six years of the best of these Monday morning e-mails is available as an e-book. (There will be a print edition when I can make the time).
Also, working with my wonderful friend Dawn Waldron, we have written a new, thorough and really easy to use Life Purpose work book.
You can get your copies here.
If you would like help in finding your authenticity, give me a call.
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