This microcosm misunderstanding and following lack of service has a relative in society. Havoc follows when people’s needs in society are not being served well. We only need to look at the Middle East and Africa for the extreme. Or at the other scale we can look at the cronyism democracy of Western nations. In the former people start to protest; in the latter trademarks are a lack of participation in civil society and increased dissatisfaction with government. Australia’s March in March, the Occupy Wall Street protests, or the racial riots in London a couple of years back are just some example of dissatisfaction.
Readers Digest, in 2013, listed Australia’s 50 most trusted professions. Sadly sex workers ranked better than politicians with the 46th and 49th position, respectively. Trust in government has been dropping since the GFC and is significantly lower today than in the 1960s. Trust in society requires the same pre-conditions as organisations: Freedom, Equality, Accountability, Fairness, Openness, and Transparency. A comparison between the UK, US and Sweden showed that governments are not very good across the board, but have the most challenge with accountability and transparency.
Political leaders are in an unusual position when it comes to accountability. There is lack of mean to dismiss politicians if they are in disservice to society or are underperforming. There are no KPIs to measure performance and hold them accountable; something unimaginable for CEOs in larger organisations or sporting clubs.
The political leaders who want to serve are hamstrung by party politics. Often they have to compromise their own principles. To operate true to personal principles requires courage to speak up and live without fear. Not many people can live without fear. And this becomes the problem. Political leaders are propelled into a position of power and elitism. Their self-interest brings about self-sustaining systems to remain in power and part of the elite…one has to protect ones livelihood for as long as possible and suck up to those that help keep you on the career path. The self-serving systems of a dictatorship, two-party politics or career politics makes politicians accountable to their leader, party dictatorship (line), but not the people.
For instance Australia’s corruption scandals such as Australian Water Holdings ASIC inquiry in NSW, ICAC inquiry into donor money, or the travel expense scandal in 2013 show that leaders try to avoid accountability, openness and transparency. After all, hiding stuff keeps the self-serving system alive.
People’s dissatisfaction in how they are being served will not abate…its part of our evolution. People want their needs met. It does not matter whether this is in organisations, the community or society at large. And leaders increasingly are expected to deliver on the relational side of the contract.