Lang clearly depicted the 20th Century management style arising out of the World Wars and the growth of the industrial economy. Management positions exerted control, kept close supervision and undertook quality checks. The proviso was that management knows best. Most current managers are raised and trained in this environment, and learned the practice of management, not leadership. John Kotter, who has been researching leadership since the 1990s, commented in a 2013 Harvard Business Review Blog, that sufficient leadership is still rare in organisations.
Metropolis also shows that the narcissistic pursuit of personal happiness, caring about the self, attaining an elitist or celebrity status, or the need for self-promotion, recognition and admiration as leader does in time ruin credibility and leads to unrest. New Age Narcissism is visible today in the over-active participation in social media or reality TV, prolific formation of causes creating duplication and more competition, and the expectation for personal freedom and rights with no responsibilities.
Metropolis has little room in the 21st Century. Particularly in Western Society, the evolution of human development is shifting from self-interest to the common good and human well-being. Businesses undertaking this shift mastered a move from ‘I’ to the ‘We’, a long term focus, and a view that society is a major stakeholder. Trust is an essential ingredient to leading people through this shift.
Richard Barrett, researcher and author of The New Leadership Paradigm states that trust builds cohesion and removes barriers to working together. Unfortunately, the Edelman Trust Barometer survey found that trust has dropped globally: trust in business from 56% in 2011 to 53% in 2012 and trust in CEOs from 50% to 38%, respectively. The only rise in trust is between peers increasing from 34% to 65%. Trust is fragile; current trust will not build future trust and distrust breads suspicion and stops people from connecting and committing.
A lack of trust and self-interest are even more rampant in Governments and political practices than businesses. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows a decline of trust at a global level to 43% in 2012 being lower than in 2007. Australia’s trust in government dropped from 52% in 2011 to 47% in 2012. In addition, Australia, with 60%, is situated 7th in a line of governments not trusted to tell the truth. Non-democratic nations have the highest trust levels such as UAE (78%), China (75%), and Singapore (73%) with the former two dropping by 10% each from 2011. Government’s credibility as spokespeople has dropped in most nations measured.
The level of self-interest in national culture has been measured by the Barrett Values Centre since 2008. It uses cultural entropy, a toxicity measure of culture, to show how well government relates to the need of society and its
people. A toxic culture of 50% cultural entropy usually leads to bankruptcy. Australia’s 2010 survey shows cultural entropy at 42%; Iceland went bankrupt in 2008 with 54%, the US was bailed out with 56% and the UK is suffering with 59%. The UAE with 12% and Bhutan with 4% are considered the happiest nations despite their government structure. Barrett found a direct correlation between the trust in government leaders telling the truth and the level of cultural entropy or self-interest in a nation.
Building trust requires competence and character. Competence is the set of skills, knowledge and experience that result in reputation, credibility and performance. And character is about caring for others, transparency and motivation in decision making, and openness to others ideas and opinions. They result in being seen as honest and frank even in difficult situations, having fairness to act without discrimination or injustice, and authenticity in thought, word and actions regardless of the situation.