Brace yourself for a global Leadership Revolution!
Masses of “followers” will challenge – even openly resist – their leaders on a global scale never experienced before, and in a more sophisticated and united, sometimes aggressive way, than ever before – calling them to account for how they lead and in many cases, why they don’t lead at all; questioning their actual place in society, whether we even need them in the traditional sense of the word.
What will actually be under severe attack is the very construct called ‘leadership’. It will be ripped apart and every romantic and false perception or belief of it will be deconstructed. This revolution has begun inside the political realm, as we see in South Africa, the United States and Europe, and will escalate into globally destabilizing proportions, while making its way into the corporate space as well – perhaps initially disguised in different forms – but manifesting itself there nevertheless.
Leadership – collectively speaking – has failed over and over and over. To make matters worse, the rate at which we learn from past leadership mistakes has disappeared behind the dust cloud of a speedy rise of toxic, selfish, ignorant, outdated and immature leadership that seems to have overtaken Authentic Leadership. What is preached and what actually happens on the ground are often light years apart. The leadership landscape reeks of hypocrisy and masses of recipients will not stand for it any longer. “Small” will take on “big”; the many “down there” will take on the few “up there” at a faster rate than before.
Far too much is said and promised, while far too little tangibly happens. Political leaders have broken promises for far too long and the electorate have been patient for far too long; the discontent often hidden behind light hearted statements like “that’s just how politicians are”. But no longer! No group or society can lead a sustainably worthwhile and empowered existence – “a better life for all” – when its leaders are selfish, fraudsters, liars and ‘promise-breakers’; when the standards of performance and behaviour are so low.
But alas, this practice of breaking promises; of appointing incapable leaders; of non-delivery; is already finding its way into the corporate space. Amidst market volatility and utter chaos – often created by ill prepared politicians – leaders are under pressure to deliver short term results for shareholders, while transforming at the same time. They make promises that they can’t keep, having to implement – often unnecessary – bold steps and sometimes financial wizardry in the short term to place their fragile performance offering on a ‘public altar’; resulting in handsome rewards, after which they disappear into the sunset before the glass castle behind them comes tumbling down.
Small signs of dishonesty have become common practice. We promise to call back and we don’t; we promise to deliver a report by a certain time then we don’t; we come late and it’s somehow accepted. I can go on.
Some business leaders give lip service to transformation but financial performance far outranks it. We express concern for poverty and unemployment in the public domain, while ensuring in the background that our business moves in a direction of technological superiority that invariably means fewer jobs, yet it’s necessary for survival in this competitive, materialistically driven world.
We are dependent on small businesses for job creation, who in turn are often completely dependent on large corporate and government contracts. Again, lip service just does not match realities on the ground – small businesses are slowly strangled to death due to cashflow burdens because of delayed payments from large corporate and government organizations, themselves managing cashflow realities on another scale.
Fortunately – in the long run, but unfortunately in the short term – all leaders function inside a visible bubble – their actions are on display like never before. With the advent of the internet and the interconnectedness of social media many cannot, and will not, survive a double standard life style; hypocrisy; inherent selfishness. Their bubbles will burst one by one because this revolution also takes us into the age of personal accountability. We will all increasingly feel the weight of it – personally, organisationally and nationally. It is becoming impossible to hide and blame.
But the bigger crisis looms. It is the false hope of many that there is a leadership pipeline of “saviours” who can step into the failed leader’s shoes to lead us out of the predicament we find ourselves in. Look carefully and you will see that they aren’t there. For some time now we as a society have grossly underestimated the tsunami and speed of change that swept across the world. Leadership training and preparation have not matched the reality. We see this over and over as leaders demonstrate arrogance, ignorance or a severe lack of responsiveness, wisdom, creative and authentic ways of dealing with their highly informed, assertive and sometimes unreasonable followers.
This Leadership Revolution will sift the wheat from the tares; the Authentic Leaders from the toxic leaders. You may at some point in the future feel that your only protection from this ruthless uprising is to hide or disappear into the numbers of the masses. But, if your instinct is to lead and make a difference – which invariably means high visibility inside a bubble – then you had better be authentic, or become authentic; you had better understand this picture and prepare yourself for it. How, is the big question – answered in this article?
Very tough times are on the horizon for many of our current crop of leaders, and therefore by default society at large. Brace yourself…
Read here 13 reasons why Adriaan is the ideal Leadership Advisor / Executive Coach for your leaders.
Adriaan Groenewald is a leadership expert and commentator. Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Adriaan on firstname.lastname@example.org for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation. Follow him on Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP or @LeadershipPform.