The following chat stream came out of an online program we conducted. What follows is a question I posed and some of the responses.
I’ve been thinking about the events in the Middle East and how the Five Practices apply in different cultures around the world. It seems to me that they very much apply to what is happening in Egypt and elsewhere – creating a new Shared Vision, Challenging the Process, etc. What do you think – do the Five Practices work in different cultures or are they North American centric?
“This is a fascinating question to ponder, Charles, and I appreciate the comments thus far. I agree that all Five Practices, or lack thereof, are clearly evident here, and in brief, I think the Five Practices could be applied successfully to other cultures. However, even in our American culture, the lack of clarity in who is the one leader to follow, or a long-standing leader who is out of touch with the realities of the community – these are examples of how the spirit of the Five Practices are not always demontrated in the leadership behaviors themselves. As was mentioned in comments for this thread, the nuances of being savvy to the enviornment can make a significant difference in a leader’s success or failure. I see the events in the middle east as incredibly complex, and I confess, I’m not as learned on them as I need to be to make a knowledgable conclusion. Still, even in these extreme cases, I think there are leadership lessons to be learned in how the leader does or does not demonstrate all Five Practices…If nothing else, I think that looking through the LPI lens at these situations helps us in trying to understand these uncertain environments just now…”
Response Posted by Charles St.John
DG Posted: “In my perception the Five practices reflect successful behaviors in mostly developped /open companies and nations. When applied to countries where the political/social /educational systems are established differently (castes, oppression, religions, traditions, etc..) these practices should be adjusted /questionned/ implemented taking into account the local culture, traditions, beliefs, etc..
Many cultures (and companies) of the world, in my opinion, are not ready for sudden participation, openness, broken traditions or questionned beliefs. The Five practices of successful leadership should ADJUST gradually to all of these to be able to become really effective.
In the current situation in the Middle East, I believe people are reflecting a frustration to see in their leaders lack of common Values, not shared by them and see NO future. The communication channels (Internet, cel.phone, twitter,Facebook) has given them open eyes to compare, has helped them to Challenge effectively the system and expect to be enabled to work with their new governmental alternatives.. My only hope is that they do not fall again in other type of absolutisms (religious, Oil-hungry nations) or some chaos….”
Sometimes We Need Earthquakes
Posted by Charles St.John:
You make a good point that many cultures and companies may not be ready for sudden openness, etc. One hopes for evolutionary change that allows people time to adapt to new ways. However, there are times, like in the Middle East now when evolutionary change is too slow and radical, revolutionary change becomes necessary. Like the tectonic plates of the earth that build up pressure over time and then must release their force with shocks and upheavals – I think the same thing happens in cultures, countries and companies. And, it is true for individuals as well. How many people do you know who needed a divorce, being fired, or having a severe financial reversal before they would wake up, change their ways, and reset their vision and values?
Middle East crisis and transcultural leadersh…
Posted by PB:
“Beyond moral aspects, I agree in many senses with DG comments, specially regarding those that acknowledge the impact of other Cultures, with different social and work traditions hampering current western leadership strategies application…as well as the other way around: leadership strategies that may alter traditions sustaining current hierarchical and productive established labor. Now, challenging the process of thinking about how to apply the five practices into the middle east people’s uprise phenomena nowadays, the first thing that comes to my mind is a question: Can we point to a leadership profile when these revolts does not seem to have any (one) leader at all? it seems to me that the current evolution of this situation up to now, may show a consequence of what happens when a previously once-apparent leaders did not evolve along with society, and became models of exemplary dictator “anti-leadership” practices. ”
Single Leader or Collective Leadership
Posted by Charles St.John
Interesting thought – if there is no single leader, then do the people collectively act in ways that are aligned with the Five Practices? Do they create their own Shared Vision, Challenge the current situation, Enable themselves to act by protesting, and Encourage each other to stay the course? And then when the balance has been tipped into a new order, the people transfer their Vision into the hands of new leaders who will carry out the will of the people?
Single leadership or collective leadership
Posted by DG
“I have many doubts that in the current situation in the Middle East, there is no such a leader.. nor a “single leader” . After so many leaders of oppression and systematic shutting off of any kind of “oposition”, There are many factions/countries and economic interests playing their “silent leader” approach. Just to mention some:
1- The Islamic fanatics (Shi-ites) sponsored by Iran’s Ayatollahs and government, for whom these “secular” governments (Egypt, Lybia, Tunisia) headed by old-time dictators were an obstacle to de-stabilize the Middle East rich countries and, as a consequence, the West. They could play a more “democratic” role now and possibly be a party or even the main government in those countries without any other organized oposition ready to take control.
2- Of course Al-Queda is the second hidden “leadership organization” interested in creating chaos in oil-rich (pro-western” dictatorships…
3- The “true democracy” interested people, resulting from decades of well educated in the West country-men and women who have returned to their countries and, because of their access to internet and communications elsewhere, see “globalization” as a train passing and leaving them behind in their old fashioned religious leaders.
4- The military from all these countries, always the power behind these governments, for whom there is another opportunity to change hands and get some more privileges and establish their own people in power and repeat the history with new faces…
5- And of course, the Western countries that could see this as an opportunity to take control of another oil-rich country in the name of “democracy and freedom for all…”
The so-called “explosion” without any leader may be the best way to present these situations to world media to get rid of their own camarades…and keep governing (see current situation in Egypt…)
My only hope is that a new generation interested in the well being of everyone (not only themselves) take control in these very rich countries…for the benefit of their own people….”
Middle East and Collective Leadership
Posted by PB
This is true Charles – and specially for us – involved in this course! As a collective behavior, the Middle East uprise can be red to perfectly fit into the Five Practices of good leadership patterns. Anyhow, and trying to be provocative to our classmates, I think that we have to realize that collective behaviors also depends largely on local society trends, culture, and circumstances conditioned by other interests, that altogether render different results, as we are seeing currently among the different Arab countries situation. Furthermore, comparable survival collective behaviors seen in other species (hunger, anger…) may contribute also, …and far beyond, even from an extreme different perspective, a commercial “globalizationist” observer may think that it was a positive “market behavior” derived by the influx of a wideworld spread of western comfort living ideas. Ray Loriga (contemporary writer and film maker) quoted: “one only covet what is visible”.
Human behaviors are very complex, and from my naive behavioral perspective, I think that the Five Practices represent an excellent frame to develop successful leadership on top of good individual values, abilities and commitment. “