I tweeted today to ask David Schneider, perhaps best known as a comedian but now often a political commentator, to stop using ‘Trump’ as a direct replacement for the USA in a tweet about today’s big story – selling off the NHS:
Whilst I appreciate, in the above, I am referring to Trump being used in place of ‘America companies’ the wider point is one where we are seeing ‘great men of history’ theory playing out in real time. If we look at Trump, he is the figure head of (perhaps late stage?) American capitalism – Michael Moore having for-seen this as a joke back in 1999 as part of RATM video. Stigmatising Trump may well be valid but he is also quite possibly ill and will almost certainly be followed by similar figures.
This focus on male figureheads can be seen in the increasingly presidential UK elections – ‘Boris’ vs Corbyn, blue vs red, ‘Boris’ vs Trotsky, etc, etc. The Green New Deal in the US and the Labour UK equivalent are huge stories – the people involved less so. However, it feels like the focus is on the people not the change being advocated.
This is of course endemic in the business world too with huge focus on powerful founders and CEOs – often these people are the first to aknowledge they owe their success to much wider teams, in other cases they manifest the worse kind of leadership quality – bullying, long hours culture, etc. Even worse, many are exemplars of tax avoidance and other shaddy practices.
From a learning perspective we need need to master the internal storytelling of organisations – focusing on people and products but also much more, for example, what environmental elements made successes possible? How can we share and repeat success?
Let’s get below the surface and really consider what these ‘great men’ are doing whilst focusing less on them and more on the substance. Please.