As I write this, NBC is announcing that Hosni Mubarak has resigned as President of Egypt. When all of the protests were ramped up a few weeks ago, I was filming in Eastern Europe, so I’ve been able to follow the reporting from various perspectives around the world. The thing that stands out so clearly is how leaders can spend years (sometimes decades) living in a bubble. Being told slanted information by your closest aides, living in your own reality, refusing to face tough choices – only to discover far too late that you’ve been living in a parallel universe.
I believe it could be the greatest single threat for politicians, business executives, and even non-profit and religious leaders. In fact, many of you reading this post right now work for someone who lives in a bubble. The bubble manifests itself in many ways – for instance:
— He or she lives a lavish lifestyle while asking employees to take deep pay cuts.
— Refusing to entertain the idea that the world is changing, and we need to change with it.
— Believing what worked 5, 10, or 15 years ago should still work today.
— Refusing to learn from (or even acknowledge) criticism.
— Taking all his or her advice from a top advisor or assistant, who then keeps everyone else’s advice and opinion’s in the distance.
— Staying out of touch with how regular people think and live.
The list goes on and on. But the bottom line is that as you see Egypt’s former president walk away into oblivion, take a hard look at yourself and your organization. I’ve discovered it’s not just the guy at the top who’s most likely to live in a bubble. Middle managers do it as well.
Who do you know who’s living in a bubble, and what can you do to pop it?