Five Leadership Lessons from Tahrir Square

It is impossible to watch the dramatic events in Egypt without meditating on the lessons for leaders, whether of countries or companies. I would like to share five leadership lessons that stand out and should not be ignored by leaders.

1. The Greater the Control, The Greater the Tendency to Instability

It is a paradox. Mubarak maintained every form of control he could imagine over his opposition and his people. But the corollary to this absolute control is that this creates a closed system, one that failed to process feedback from its environment and this led to the ultimate instability.

This is a “whole-system” problem. In my previous blog post I present a whole-system model that includes the internal environment, the extended environment and the external environment. Improvement comes from the feedback loops and the process of adaptation from these environments. Mubarak’s internal environment was comprised of his inner circle of trusted associates. His extended environment was the Interior Ministry and Army. The external environment was the mass of Egyptian people.

Companies expect to control, and therefore process feedback, within the internal environment. They see that as their job. In lean manufacturing, the walls between the internal and extended environment (suppliers, partners) become extremely porous, almost non-existent.

Full story...