Recently I was reading yet another news story of how radically the world had changed in past few years and how it may be a long time before things get much better.
Another story was about how unhappy most employees are but how they cannot leave their current jobs because of the fear generated by the high unemployment rate.
These stories make me realize we are now living and working in a “new normal” very unlike what we had become accustomed to in days gone by.
A New Frontier
We have now arrived on an unknown and unpredictable new frontier where our desire to be safe and comfortable no longer matters in light of the global issues playing out around the world. Just consider some of the global changes that are happening as we sleepwalk through our normal days in our state of magical thinking believing we will just wake up one day and everything will back to our old normal.
We now live in a world characterized by:
- Deteriorating environmental conditions
- Population growth approaching seven billion people
- Serious energy challenges
- Unsustainable consumer trends
- Governmental overspending
- Institutionalized greed and corruption from DC to Wall Street and throughout the world
- Rampant outsourcing of jobs we need at home
- Endemic poverty
- Entitlement attitudes
- State terrorism and continued middle east madness
- New emerging economies that could overtake ours soon
- Revolutions and unrest in large parts of the world
- Local, state and country governments bankrupt or on the edge
- Unemployment levels and mortgages failures at record numbers
- The gap between the “haves” and have-nots” growing wider each day…
A New Dawn
So if even half of what I have described is real, we can say goodbye (maybe for a while and maybe forever) to a work world and way of life that we have all become all too comfortable with.
Is leadership part of these problems or part of the solutions?
Are we all (perhaps unconsciously) colluding in a functionally blind game that insures nothing much of substance will result from our efforts?
To quote Dr. George Odiorne’s Law:
“Things that don’t change remain the same.”
Surely there is some good news here that our leaders can point to as signs that we know what we are doing.
I read somewhere recently that there are over 10,000 books on leadership with more arriving each day.
If that is true (or even in the ball park,) and you add in all the:
- Leadership articles
- Academic research papers
- Daily quotes or lessons of inspiration
- e-learning courses
- Executive education programs
- Professional coaching certifications, etc.,
…then you have to ask yourself how much more information do we need to resolve the leadership crisis that has been so richly documented by a large number of respectable academic and media experts and companies?
I can also refer to the multitude of surveys that strongly support this argument by highlighting survey results about how unhappy, dissatisfied, frustrated, devalued, etc. the majority of the workforce is feeling today.
It just doesn’t add up, does it? So much for all our previous efforts and “transformational” techniques, programs, etc.
Agree? Or, is it those pesky others again?
Tired New Day
It appears that we are solidly stuck in the old paradigms of leadership, company, and culture building as if we are unaware of how radically the world (including work) is changing today.
Dr. Ellis would note that this is predictable because he believed that:
“Insight is generally meaningless to human beings.”
Since we all have areas in our life and work that we would like to change (many for some years) and that we have not done much, if anything, to change them, it would be hard to argue with this wise psychotherapists.
So what is going on?
Have we quietly retreated into our comfort zone cocoons where denial and self-deception protect us and tell us go through the familiar motions each day?
We may prefer to walk around the big dead elephant (of a radically changing world and workplace affecting every area of our lives) and act out a business as usual persona. It is easy to do because our myopic beliefs are readily reinforced by our own experts and helping professionals who continue to rely on PR programs to sell us the same repackaged products and services.
They know we have always been satisfied treating symptoms and pretending we have effectively resolved the company’s (or an individual’s) significant problems.
It seems like is is just more of the popular-activity-versus-results-game.
I say this because, if you ask these consultants, teachers, expert’ and coaches, etc. where are the new tools, methods, practices and maps designed to allow us to deal effectively with the complexities of today’s work world, they don’t have them.
They may not even believe they are needed. Many of these folks have so much invested in their current products, x step programs, and models that they have not even thought about the fact that generally these products don’t work at a deep enough level to institutionalize the learning needed to insure success today and create fitness for future actions.
As a result, they cannot possibly help us succeed in our radically changed new world.
But do we really understand what is happening? As a friend of mine’s wife would say, “Never under estimate the power of denial.”
“Denial has always been a problem, what is different today is that the cost of denial has become so high. We are living in a less forgiving world than we once did.” Richard S. Tedlow
To be continued… (See A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Office – Part 2 Losing Our Purpose)
Image Sources: businessinsider.com