Dear Friends,
I wrote this five years ago, but I feel it is at least as relevant today. So, I share again for all.
I first want to wish all a truly happy and peaceful Christmas (Chanukah, or any Holiday) and best wishes for the coming year. The world is not healthy and we must be caregivers to our fellow human beings and the planet. This is what it means to be human.
As you know I teach and write about leadership, management and organization culture. So, of course, I view events in the news with an eye to the qualities of leadership being displayed and those required in present circumstances. I would just like to share a couple thoughts for your consideration as we look forward to the New Year.
The earth is a small planet. We are one people on this small planet. In a very real sense, we are all now world citizens. When we imagine differences and threats, when we lead or speak in a way that amplifies those differences, we are leading toward greater friction and costs. When you manage a company, the more friction there is between engineering, manufacturing and sales, for example, the greater the likelihood of failure. All friction consumes energy and produces heat. When we create unified processes, eliminate frictions between activities and people, we reduce the cost of that friction. This is a principle that applies within a company, across companies, and across cultures.
As it has always been, the key to peace is empathy, understanding and appreciating the feelings and circumstance of those on the other side of any conflict. The absence of empathy leads to hurtful behavior, war, that creates more conflict and more pain.
The job of leaders today, at every level, is to recognize the unity of interests, the unity of people and processes, and reduce barriers that are both real and imagined. Leaders create common purpose, they do not simply respond to, or exploit, popular sentiments. Leaders instill greater nobility in their followers, and do not manipulate their baser instincts. The entire world is in desperate need of leaders who are uniters, and not dividers.
I hope in the coming year we will all recognize our shared interests and support those who unite and do not divide. The history of civilizations repeatedly demonstrates that when classes of people are increasingly separated by extremes of wealth and poverty, from top to bottom, the system becomes unstable and revolution results. The greater the disparity in class, the more violent the revolution.
There is no religious tradition, not in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or Baha’i that celebrates the massive accumulation of personal wealth. They all promote charity and moderation, uplifting the poor, and forgiving those who have caused you pain. We who either control or influence the systems of society, including within our organizations, I believe have the duty to design those systems to reduce disparity, to moderate wealth, to uplift the poor. This is the lesson of every religion in which we may profess belief. And, now is the time for leaders to put these spiritual principles into practice. It is time to practice true religion as expressed by the Founders.
These are my prayers for the coming year. I pray for your happiness and your success.
Happy Holidays,
Larry Miller