Why is it ...
- Why is it that 99% of people see the necessity of change and want it, but only less than 1% is willing to do something about it?
- Why is it that even much fewer (than the 1% above) people are willing to take the lead?
- Why is it that otherwise fairly intelligent people back down and don’t stand up for what they claim they want, preferring to be busy with their daily trivia instead?
- Why is it that people pride themselves of having integrity and being authentic, when they show up with ‘split personalities’ saying one thing but thinking something else?
- Why is it that people say that nowadays everyone can lead but are nowhere close, nowhere to be seen as soon as things get rough and tough?
- Why is it that the majority of people look away when some stranger is in harm’s way and in desperate need of help?
I could continue this list with many more questions. But I think you get the point. I was asking myself whether this is a rather new development. Maybe it had to do with how society evolved. And my immediate and biased thought was that in the past we were doing much more. In the past people were much more willing to stand up and fight for what they wanted. Fight for their individual human rights. Challenging leadership and demanding change.
And at that point I began looking into the data. General data that anyone can easily research online. And my own data. Data I had collected during my own life experience. Data collected of my own ‘fights of the past’ if you so will. And my data was congruent with the general data found during my research. My conclusion was that nothing has changed. Back then most people were as risk-averse, as fear-driven as nowadays.
Courage seems to be in short supply. And not so surprising: wimps don’t dare to lead. Wimps blend in and look away. “Not my problem.” is their mantra. Always keeping a low profile. Always on their mission to please people. And they gladly follow the pied pipers who promise taking care of them as long as they obey. Critical thinking is absent. Wimps are paralyzed by their fear. The quintessential ‘obedient citizens’. Cementing the ‘status quo’. The exact opposite of troublemakers.
It also means that we still have the same type of 'leaders' as we had in the past. And in these days the autocrats are hiding behind the veil of democracy and pulling the strings. People are told that they are empowered, they are free. But security comes first. And for that total surveillance is needed. No one can be trusted. Neither you, nor others. Hence, the goal is total surveillance. Which means everyone is a suspect unless proven innocent. And the burden of proof is on you. "Get used to it and tough it out!" people are told ... And they obey. They always do.
“When you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.” This saying and that one “How you do anything, you do everything.” describes the state of our society well. A society is always defined by its people. And so are organizations, corporations, and companies. The easy way out pointing towards and blaming these entities was never and is not the root cause. People, each one of us, are the root cause. And, that hasn’t changed either, people get the leaders they deserve. Willful ignorance combined with lack of courage is paving the way.
Looking around one can see many people claiming that they are leaders. One can find them almost everywhere. In any specialty. Business leaders, marketing leaders, sales leaders, political leaders, you name it. The list is long. And each one of them claims too that what they do is based on the highest values, like integrity, trust, etc.. Of course. They talk about being authentic. And that would indeed be of the utmost importance. But are they? Yet, often when one listens to them talking about their ‘official topics’ it sounds disconnected. Disconnected from what they say they stand for, when they are not ‘on stage’. I have met so many people like this. I think we all have. How can one possibly have respect for these people? I don’t.
All too often these ‘leaders’ play a ‘role’. And watching them carefully reveals that their ‘spoken words’ are incongruent with their ‘unspoken thoughts’. They seem to have a ‘split personality’: their ‘official persona’ and their ‘private persona’. When you call them on that they become immediately defensive. They tell you that it is impossible, maybe even dangerous, to say ‘officially’ what they really stand for, what they really think. They have to obey the rules they say. They are unbelievably resourceful in finding ‘reasons’ explaining their behavior. I call that lame excuses. The opposite of leadership.
The very same people who don’t dare to speak up saying what they really think are the ones looking to the other side when someone needs their help. For instance a woman being attacked at plain sight. And, unfortunately, it’s the majority of people as research has shown.
There is a price tag attached to having integrity and being authentic. A price most people don’t want to pay. They rather cater to the system in place. “Singing about socialism with their mouths full of caviar.” a dear Mexican friend called this behavior. And that’s where their integrity and authenticity gets lost.
Being ‘mainstream’, being aligned with the ‘current general opinion’ seems to be more important than taking a stand for what one claims to stand for. Thus betraying one’s own values. That’s how the system is built. Telling people what to think. It happens in general and it happens in organizations / companies of all sizes and flavors. “Whose bread I eat whose song I sing.” Yet, it can only happen as long as people allow it to happen. It takes courage, a lot of courage to stand up for one’s values and stand tall. And it takes even more courage to be a true, authentic leader with integrity.
CodaThe ‘floggings will continue until morale improves’. More than ever before we need leaders who deserve being called ‘ true leaders’. On all levels. Leaders with integrity. Leaders with values, Leaders who stand for something and stand up for it. Leaders who think for themselves and think critically. Leaders who say loud, clear and direct exactly that what they are thinking. Leaders with courage. Leaders encouraging others and empowering others to do the same. Authentic leaders with character. Leaders who lead and do not follow opinions. No matter the circumstances or the risk. Then, and only then, change becomes possible.