Wednesday, November 03, 2010
It is said that we are living amidst the "information age" or the "information revolution".
The fact is, more than ever before, relevant and (mostly) reliable information is a mouse click away in most civilized countries. The average citizen can click on Google Images, search 'Area 51' and get the following picture;
This used to be FBI classified info and now your 10 year old can learn that there are runways (debated to be for high tech aircraft or even space shuttles) and technology very present there.
Why is this relevant?
Well international law and the number of different photo- capable satellites orbiting Earth and other planets are making more and more types of information accessible - so this has become the new expectation. Whether it's weather or crime - keep me in the loop.
The one place this has not permeated the social fabric enough is the workplace. Somehow, companies are still in business operating as privileged 'in-the'know' clubs wherein the most hierarchically senior staff know all and anyone who knows a portion of that info is sacred. The many must produce results based on the insight and leadership of the few.
The notion of unanimous decision making is slow, and much of the time unrealistic. However, even in unilateral decisions, an informed public becomes a trusting public if they understand the factors leading to decisions and understand (not necessarily agree with) the decision itself.
The fact is some people are leaders because they are the best candidate; man or woman, black or white, Christian or Muslim, whatever. These people demonstrate high personal integrity coupled with the ability to lead through adversity and make the impossible decisions. These people remain calm in the face of information that would cripple lessor leaders, and find a way to communicate the realities while still motivating everyone to do the best with whatever they have.
The 'old boys club' of the privileged few making enormous decisions behind closed boardroom doors - is a dying breed for many reasons. First, no new influx or ideas or perspectives. Even leaders with long track records of success can begin to wear out their worth if they don't reinvent their methods. Next, it's hard to infuse a dynamic, passionate culture based on segmentation of power. Third, no one gets empowered 'how to' if the up-and-comers aren't exposed to, educated on, and led through the decision making and strategic planning process. Once the old leaders retire, their experience and vision retire with them.
Basically, in the age of blogs, social media, and smart advertising that sends over 100,000 messages at North Americans a day - the only way to lead anyone is to engage, re-engage, and in every encounter - use the motivational power of information to empower your team to work WITH you, not for (or even worse, against) you.