Creative Leadership

The Bubble Burst for Egypt’s Mubarak. But Are You Living in One Too?

I remember when Hosni Mubarak resigned as President of Egypt. When all of the protests were ramped back then, I had been filming in Eastern Europe, so I was able to follow the reporting from various perspectives around the world.  The thing that stood 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?

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  1. Nice post for reflection; what then are next steps?

    Speaking from the side of mobile/web tech and the intersection with faith: education of what is and what isn’t right/true/real; humbliness towards wanting to change; reconciling and repenting to communities that you’ve dealt unjustly with them in light of that truth; and then (the sometimes hard and pruning) changes.

    I come up to bubbles often; little changes after the conversations unless folks are abruptly confronted with the implications of a popped state of life.

  2. I wish I had something clever or at least helpful to comment here cuz I think this is a really interesting question to ponder. It’s particularly challenging when it’s the ideology of the company that is causing the bubble. The only thing I can say is – where is a good pen when you need it?!?

  3. Egypt… power vacuum.??? Who’s talking about this? What about the idea of the few controlling the many, those who have become shielded by a solid impervious bubble that they peer out of on the rest of us and control from within? Watch the George Soros prote’gee’… Name(??) Something like ElBrienane, a member/advisor to or of many World impacting clubs and organizations. He could step into the void… perhaps? Conspiracy… Let’s meet in Davos and discuss it.

  4. Phil – that is so true! I’ve seen the same phenomenon in architecture and it’s business side!! In today’s we believe that governments need to point the way – when in essence we by our own God given common sense know by just listening to our hearts differences of right and wrong! GREAT ARTICLE – I enjoyed reading it -> your perspective!!

  5. The bubble my boss lives in is absolutely unpopable and no one would dare try to get near it with a needle…. lest you lose your head!

  6. Everyone lives in a bubble. Bubbles are beautiful – but only because they reflect the light that is outside them. And they reflect more light not when they burst, but when you let more air inside them. What is the source of your fresh air??? Mine is curiosity, interest and enthusiasm.

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