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Why we need to change the way leaders lead. The imperative of our time.
From Leaders Expedition (LEx)
This week two articles on China caught my eye.
The first, seen in Wired UK, reports on the Chinese governments plans to launch a 'Social Credit System' by 2020, that will rate - and reward - the trustworthiness of it's 1.3 billion citizens. Want high speed internet, the best interest rate on a car loan or access to the front of the line for theatre tickets - or a good doctor to treat your cancer - then you'd better have a great Social Credit rating. See Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens.
The most worrying part is the gordian entanglement of state and private actors like Alibaba in enabling this near future. A Pleasantville (at best) dystopia that alarmingly may prove the best-case as far as dystopian futures go.
The second article is by the Washington Posts outstanding columnist Fareed Zakaria - While we obsess over Trump, China is making history. Here, Zakaria writes:
"While news and analysis in the United States continue to be obsessed with President Trump’s daily antics and insults, halfway around the world, something truly historic just happened. China signaled that it now sees itself as the world’s other superpower, positioning itself as the alternative, if not rival, to the United States.
This is not my opinion based on reading the tea leaves of Chinese politics. It is the clearly articulated view of China’s supreme leader, Xi Jinping. In his speech last week to the 19th Communist Party Congress , Xi declared that China is at a “historic juncture,” entering a “new era” that will be marked by the country becoming a “mighty force” in the world and a role model for political and economic development. He asserted that China’s “political system . . . is a great creation” that offers “a new choice for other countries.” And he insisted that the country will defend its interests zealously while also becoming a global leader on issues such as climate change and trade [emphasis all mine]."
Less worrying is China's legitimate ascendancy as a great - even super power - but rather the decline of the United States as the - admittedly imperfect - torchbearer of western democracy. When China is aggressively outmaneuvering the United States on climate change and support of the United Nations, you know we have reached that historic pivot point in history noted by Zakaria above.
It speaks to a much broader and pervasive leadership deficit that is global and systemic. It is NOT a failure of the leadership cohorts/structures that have formed over decades or centuries and are now mired by their consequent legacy issues, from legal codes to computer systems - despite being populated with intelligent people of evident good will. It would be arrogant to suggest otherwise. But rather it is an acceptable observation to say that the current leadership mechanisms simply aren't up to the management of imminent challenges we face let alone the leveraging of the awesome potential of exponential technological change. And this goes for your local school board, city hall, legislature - or company.
In a world where the ascendant actor is committed to private/state co-operation to 'manage' the citizenry - to offer a "new choice for other countries" - a new alternative needs to be offered, and MUST prevail. Our contribution to that goal is The Leaders Expedition (LEx), the nucleus of a global community of accomplished leader-creators committed to an ambitious moonshot - 'One million LEx leaders in positions of influence, power and impact by 2029 - from the classroom to the boardroom to the legislature'.
As with historic expeditions in the past like Scott or Shackleton, we are at the recruitment and provisioning phase. With 300+ 'crew' signed up from 17 countries, we have a pretty good sense of where we want to be - what that new world should look like - but we know we have a very long voyage of discovery ahead of us to get there.
These two articles frame one possible future for us all. But a far grander future awaits, where "personal fulfillment, enterprise success, environmental sustainability and social justice are together guarantors of prosperity for all in a world of abundance".
Which world do you want to work towards? Feel like going an expedition of discovery? Join LEx. You'll be better, do better and do good if you do.