Wikipedia defines Synchronicity as “the experience of two or more events that are causally unrelated, occurring together in a meaningful manner”. It was the famous psychoanalyst Carl G. Jung who coined this term in the 1920’s.
Two apparently unrelated events took place in my life around the turn of the year:
Gerd Leonhard sent me the link to the Harvard Business Review blog of a brilliant and provocative man: Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab (http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/haque/). In his last post of 2009, Umair wrote the “Builders’ Manifesto” on the day of the Copenhagen Climate Conference fiasco. In his paper, he claims that we won’t need “maintenance leaders” anymore (the word is mine) but rather “builders”. From his point of view, leaders who throw their energy in the battle for saving the unsavable, leaders who try to engage their people into tightening their belts to maintain, at best, the status quo, are on the wrong path and do more harm than good.
Umair has got a point: Is it wise to invest considerable energy and financial means in saving dinosaurs, which have proven their inability to cope with change, leave alone simply listening to what their customers were telling them? Yes, jobs are at stake and in the panic storm of 2008/2009, nobody knew how wise it would be to let other Lehman Brothers fall apart in the financial, industrial and services sectors. But…
How much resource will we dedicate to maintain under life assistance companies which, unless they opt for humble and radical change of paradigm and mindset (and, from what we see, there is nothing less certain), are condemned in the short/medium term? Shouldn’t we rather invest into the promising young plants of the future?
The article then questions some famous leaders such as Barack Obama, Ben Bernanke or Bill Gates: are they innovative, value creating builders or is most of their energy geared towards maintaining a crumbling model?
I found the Maintenance vs. Builder leadership a worthwhile concept at the time of kicking a new decade accompanied with so many threats (Climate & environment, aging of the population and the weight of their pension system, the cost of health, the increasing divide and incomprehension between people and nations, poverty, misery and social inequality) as well as promising opportunities (Open Network Economy, the maturation of Brazilian, Russian, Indian, Chinese and many other economies, the fast growth of the social networking phenomenon diminishing barriers of intolerance, progress in green technology and economy, micro-credit etc…). Do we want to be remembered as leaders “looking to the future in their driving-mirror” or will we be celebrated as visionary builders?
While I was reflecting on that choice, came to me the very sad story of a personal friend: a flamboyant, sometimes borderline arrogant and successful businessman, he now fell into a deep and painful depression, despite of his persistent successes. While discussing these sad circumstances, the words of Robert Stevenson (author of Robinson Crusoe) resonated in my head: “To be who you are and to become who you are capable of becoming is the only end in life”.
In 2010, I intend to dedicate my energy and passion to support the “building leaders” who will courageously challenge the status-quo, refuse to be victims of circumstances and rather than “fix it”, will have the determination to re-create what shouldn’t be maintained.
I wish you all a determined and courageous journey during this 2010 year!