Earlier this month I had the honor to spend a full day with Professor Bob Emiliani. I started to think about Bob’s work in the context of Spiral Dynamics.
What color has classical management’s culture?
In his book The Triumph of Classical Management over Lean Management, Professor Bob Emiliani paints a picture of current management and leadership.
In table 1-1 he sums up some cultural characteristics of classical management.
He describes the dominant cultural characteristic as one of war and fighting. Very much a Red culture of Power.
Relationships are characterized as predatory and opportunistic. I, again, associate this with a Red Power culture.
Hierarchical affection is classified as high. One could associate this again with Red but I also associate this with a Purple more Clan like culture.
There are other items in the list that could be interpreted as a Purple or Red culture. In summary I would say that the Spiral Dynamics color of classical management is very much a mix of a Clan like Purple culture and a Power like Red culture.
What color does the workforce culture have?
Considering that the workforce has to deal with the daily realities, with the facts of daily life, it would make sense to think that the workforce lives more in the de facto or control paradigm. Bob Emiliani also writes about the material realm of the worker where scientific thinking has its place.
Therefore, I would argue that the workforce mainly lives in a more Blue culture valuing Order or a more Orange culture valuing Succes.
Of course, there is a huge variation among the people in the workforce. Therefore I made the graphic bar in the summarizing image quite wide to indicate that there are many individual differences.
I also think that the workforce, over a period of many decades, moved from a more obedient Blue “listen to the boss” to a more Orange “whats in it for me?” attitude. This reflects the global shift to more individualism.
What color does our leadership need?
I think that many of the biggest problems we currently see in the world are a manifestation of the leadership that we collectively follow.
Somehow we think (thought?) it is OK to exploit the earth.
Somehow it is (was?) OK to destroy natural habitats to plant our mono cultures.
Somehow we think (thought?) it is OK to exploit people out of sight in other parts of the world.
Somehow it is (was?) OK that the world’s 26 richest people own as much as the poorest 50% or the world’s population.
Somehow, something seems to be very wrong.
Somehow we seem to think that we can live separate from the earth, from nature and from other people.
Somehow we seem to forget that we need air to breath, water to drink, food to eat.
We are very much dependent on all the interactions between all different kinds of life. We cannot live without the life around us…
What kind of leadership do we need?
I think we need leaders who understand that we are part of a much bigger system.
I think we need leaders who understand that we are an in-separate part of life.
I think we need leaders who understand that if we destroy our environment that we destroy the very source of our life.
I think we need leaders who can envision ways for us to live in harmony with the earth, with nature, and with all other life on this planet.
I think we need leaders who can inspire us to take a different course. A course to a sustainable future.
Colors of Synergy and Holistic Leadership
The leaders I described above are leaders who understand the synergy between the many different systems that surround us and take a way more holistic approach to human endeavor. These leaders could in Spiral Dynamics be characterized with the Synergistic color Yellow and the Holistic color Turquoise.
How to bridge the gap?
Professor Bob Emiliani’s image of classical management does not stem very hopeful. It gives me the impression that current leadership will have a very hard time to reinvent itself. And why would they…?
If you look at the image above about The Leadership Gap and if you have studied Spiral Dynamics just a little bit than you understand that the gap is huge. How many of our current leaders will be able to bridge this gap?
Maybe we are blinded by our focus on leadership. Maybe, if we want to find a way to bridge the gap, we have to focus on follow-ship instead.
Who are you following?
Why do we have the leaders we have? Because many of us chose to follow them, isn’t?
So who are you following and why?
The only way out is in.Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
I know, confronting questions. But I think these questions are crucial. We need to have a look inside, and ask ourselves how we contribute to the world biggest problems.
Maybe, after some hard reflection, you may conclude that you need to start following different leaders…
Where are the leaders we need?
I think the leaders we need are already out there. They just need a bigger following.
How to make that happen?
You could be one of the leaders that we need! You just need a bigger following.
How to make that happen?