We seem to be living a unique moment of leadership crisis. Many of those who were born and/or educated as a leadership elite are failing in their positions. The USA and the UK have produced admired leaders in the past but today are far from being good examples. Both countries are reeling from the effects of poor leadership thinking and decisions.
A recent Economist article ‘The Elite That Failed‘ points to the inadequacy of Britain’s leaders and suggests “the country’s model of leadership is disintegrating.” Not only are several leaders inadequate, they are downright embarrassing.”
It is interesting to note that the current Brexit disaster the UK is living through has been spawned by people such as David Cameron and Boris Johnson who followed the same elite leadership path of the likes of Winston Churchill. While Churchill’s generation of elite was schooled in “gentlemanly restraint”, the current leadership has created “crony capitalism”. It is a sorry state of affairs that keeps inadequate people rewarded and in play.
The business world is likewise experiencing a lack of leadership thinking that is adequate for our rapidly changing times. The entire financial disaster that began in 2007 was created through a lack of understanding of the systemic effects of unfettered risk taken on by banks. The European insistence on austerity that followed the global crisis has kept people in artificially tight circumstances. When austerity continues for long enough it deprives people of the ability to think and imagine paths to prosperity. The focus becomes survival. In parallel, a tiny fraction of the world population is acquiring unprecedented wealth and ability to influence political decisions in their favour.
The failure to survive of certain retail legends such as Sears is due to a lack of understanding of how to adapt to the digital age. The linear thinking that created success in the past leads to blind alleys today. It will be interesting to see how another retail giant, Hudson’s Bay will fare going forward. The new CEO has an impressive background from Harvard. However, it is places like Harvard that continue to teach conventional business thinking. They produce an elite with a powerful network, but unless this elite updates its thinking, how can they produce adequate solutions for today’s problems? Giants in the consulting world cannot provide answers. Indeed, Mckinsey is currently undergoing a corruption scandal.
New thinking for new solutions
Our world has shifted into one of complexity where linear thinking is wholly inadequate. It is something that political and business education has not yet recognized or addressed. Leaders who are linearly motivated by self-interest may be succeeding in the short-term, but the inability to see the big picture is unsustainable. Not only in terms of climate change. It is unsustainable economically and socially.
Our greatest hope for the future is that leaders become quickly aware of the need for systemic thinking. Systemic thinking allows us to see that when all the stakeholders in our businesses and communities benefit from decisions and polices, then everyone can thrive. This is not idealism. This is pragmatism informed by hard science. When we start educating children, students and leaders in systemic awareness and ability to solve problems, we will quickly see how humanity not only has problems, it also has very valid answers.
Intelligent Management, founded by Dr. Domenico Lepore, helps leaders in organizations to speed up flow, overcome silos, and shift towards a systemic way of working, scheduling competencies into a synchronized Network of Projects. Intelligent Management provides internationally education, training and software for whole system management using the Deming and Goldratt Decalogue methodology .
See our new books The Human Constraint – a business novel purchased in 35 countries so far and ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York, by Dr. Domenico Lepore, Dr. Angela Montgomery and Dr. Giovanni Siepe.