Whether you are in India and wondering what more worse is in store for you, or whether you are in the USA and have been through the process of social suffering and social mourning, irrespective of what your individual story is, right now, perhaps since World War II for the first time, Humanity is held at Uncertainty, which is nothing more or nothing less then the reflection of Incompetence of Leadership at the highest visible levels within the societal arrangements that we have adhered to as humans over the last 60 years, and perhaps this is the reason why the evolving changes will question and possibly topple existing rituals and arrangements in the months and years ahead- some may help and yet a few may harm! Join me as we try to make sense of the clutter and chaos and understand what the noise is all about within the moments of deafening silence that we get to hear every now and then! so here we go!
The current crisis – so called crisis (if you ask me) is a stark reflection about how something that could have been better managed was allowed to slip away and run free and unleash havoc in no less then 184 countries when the virus was at is peak! I am not going to use this article from the point of view of who did t, why and all of that political rhetoric, the focus here is, “Why did world leaders react the way they did” even as details (no matter how insignificant and ambiguous they would have been) began to emerge about the ferocity and damage potential that this virus was capable of. A part of the answer lies in the fact that our world is an ecosystem of delicate and fine balances, like an orchestra all the different musicians and creative geniuses come together to play not one tune but their different tunes and just make it audible enough to know us who is out of syn and who is in the fold of the developments, the current episode has been so bad that it has turned a global orchestra into a big mess where every player has ended up not only playing their tune but also has ensured that the other one can’t play and hang on to their own tunes! This, I call “acoustic dissonance”! A space where no one is listening enough for anything specifically and whatever that is getting played is being accepted!
Leader’s decisions are understandably calibrated to the limitations of what they are asked to govern and manage. The problems start when they begin to govern and manage not from the mandate that has been provided to them or the positional power bestowed unto them but from a space to imitate and replicate what is being done elsewhere and when they start to find their answers in the same problems which are being resolved elsewhere; completely forgetting that the contextual setting of a same problem will have a differentiated impact based on the context of the other place and the specificity that it brings along with it! So to begin with,why does this happen?
Unlike the golden age of emerging nation, new world and economic order that we have witnessed between 1950 until 1990s, the digital age has hastened everything and created blanket formulae for everything and everyone, whether it is a job that you need or the vocation that you need to pursue, there are templated pathways to success and failures, and of course, when it comes to politics, there are dynasties and legacy handovers- but not all of them necessarily are mature or wise like their earlier generations! What all of this leads to, is a sum total of failing competencies across the social fabric, with citizen pressure low and misplaced with regards to their priorities, aspirational quality of governance, for life; the governing arrangements reciprocate by doing simply what is being just asked and aspired- and completely doing away with any visionary effort to preempt or proactively mitigate any foreseeable challenges- these aspects are then exposed as the next disaster strikes and then each element of this failing incompetent social fabric is rushing to help each other- something which could have been avoided in the first place!What’s worse as soon as the challenge is overcome, the social fabric falls back to the misplaced notion of comfort that all is well, until the next time bomb sets off, which in all probability is hidden in the current challenge and is already ticking off as this one is being managed! So now the question, can we do something about this?
Well the answer is a Yes and a No, the modern day social issues are unfortunately driven by individual greed and disease of wanting more and more with no end in sight, when this amplifies across society, it’s a hopeless situation which keeps repeating over an over again like a never ending spiral death dive unless there is a radical shift in the leadership model which is able to stall this dive and align the whole critical mass of the society for a greater and higher cause and purpose by leading from the front! This is where true leaders emerge and that’s why Leadership experts and Human Behavioral specialists often say, True Leaders emerge from the Crisis even as Pseudo Leaders create the crisis in the forts place! This alone is the hope and promise which can pull failing societies and individuals from a never ending self defeating death spiral and align them to a higher purpose and direction for the larger good!
Leaving the larger governance issue here, if we see what happens within our work areas, it is no different; every organisation grows to the limits of the Incompetence that is displayed by their leaders and the limiting beliefs that come along with it! This is why you see the churn that you see when individuals decide not to work with Mr. A , B or C or for a Company X, Y , Z- this has largely to do with this simple underlying fact, which gets camouflaged and distorted in the disguise of team meetings, restructuring, formation and disbanding of SBUs so on and so forth! Another quick way to see if you are facing the Incompetence challenge at the work place, just make a note of hoe many meetings you are part of and what real world difference have those done to you as and Individual or your team or the client (who actually pays for your in-office entertainment sessions!). The moment you do this, your next decision will be either to chart a course for your growth within the firm because things are still manageable and repairable or you will get busy planning your exit strategies! Most of the organisations suffer not because the people are ineffective, it is largely because the direction and quality of leadership is severely compromised which simply doesn’t allow people to either contribute enough or has them disarrayed in all other directions then what they should be focusing upon, thanks to the element of Self-Obsessed- Self-Driven – Megalomaniac style functioning! So how does an individual navigate around this and stay safe from being drawn into this trap of Incompetence?
The simple approach to avoid Incompetence traps comprises of really basic stuff! Firstly you may like to start by saying “No” to that undue promotion, designation, money, incentive which, heart in heart you know is not right and not worth what you are! Well yes, this seems idealistic, but that kind of introspection and being brutally honest with oneself is the foundation to ensure you don’t get entrapped into the world of Incompetence! Importantly to execute this strategy you need to have a design for your life and value system in place which provides you beacons and alarm systems to ensure you stay ion track and calibrate your growth, progress and monetary success by staying away form incompetence traps all along! Next what you can do is remain “Authentic” no matter what the compulsion and temptation, don’t disguise to what and who you are intrinsically not, if you cant tolerate dumb people, ensure you study the collective IQ of the team that you are supposed to work with or lead, rather then ending up with increased anxiety and hypertension, this first step can ensure a lot of unwanted explanation and white noise in your life is taken away in the first instance! Lastly learn to create clear protocols and keep you expectations right! If you want to travel faster then Mach 2 you need to be on a fighter plane and not on a commercial airliner, so be sure you are using the right framework and contextual settings which allow you to get what you expect as long as you continue to provide the inputs that are required to receive your expectations! This list is not exhaustive and there can be more and more nuggets of wisdom and plain speak that can be added and created to suit individual personalities and contextual settings and that is the most important aspect of life, since we are all unique individuals, could be similar in a few ways perhaps but necessarily unique, each of us requires a unique solutions to a seemingly similar problem because the contextual settings are always going to be different and that is the key to steer clear of Incompetence around us!
I will leave you here, allowing you to think and reflect on your share of experiences with incompetence and what you could or did do to either help it or stop it and whether you are zoned out or zoned in within the entrapment of Leadership that is Incompetent!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another piece, Do keep writing to us on topics that you want to learn and share and do let us know if you or your organisation needs assistance to mitigate your Leadership crisis!