Alan Watts once challenged an audience to write down everything they knew to be true because they experienced it firsthand Vs. what they assumed to be true because they were told it was so.
My experience growing up and working within the entertainment world in Hollywood, CA gave me a unique perspective with regards to human nature.
Since leaving that world and after my 25+ years working within corporations ranging from C-Suite, sales, coaching, training, & consulting, I find fascinating similarities within companies that are no different than Hollywood.
When I was a Talent Agent, I witnessed individuals who worked for celebrities doing everything in their power to be agreeable. The celebrities were the only ones in control of the room and what they said had little, if any pushback. Everyone did everything told, regardless of it making sense.
As we see the evolution of business infusing Artificial Intelligence, and Gen-Z mindsets, Leaders today have to stop and consider how they show-up to their staff/fans. Are they the ones controlling the narrative and appearing to be the only celebrity (important person) in the room. I find this type of mindset could easily destroy a company and it's vison for growth.
The same goes with consultant, Vs. staff feedback and ideas. I consulted with a company I worked for as a W2 employee years prior. When my assignment was over, I shared with the current Leader the exact coaching concept I had created when employed by them. It was what they just paid me to do as their consultant at a much higher price.
Don't get me wrong. This is not everyone in Corporate or Hollywood. I have met some amazing Leaders and exceptional celebrities. However, there are many in Hollywood and in Corporate who have a lot of "Yes" people around them. They rarely have someone challenging their legacy beliefs, which is something every leader needs during this time of rapid change.
If you asked me why some leaders are not challenged, I would say, it's because of the repercussions of saying "No". It takes a brave person to be an anomaly amongst their tribe. To share ideas within a fixed legacy system that is filled with experts, can make one feel as if they are an outcast.
If they share their frustration to a peer or another leader and word get's out to the top dawg, they can easily be seen as not being a team player. Most employees take note of their peers (surroundings) to see who falls and who stands and quickly discover, the most agreeable individuals are the ones that survive.
It’s human nature to follow those in authority and fear sharing ideas or give feedback. It’s embedded in our DNA to do what it takes to protect our own wellbeing. It’s in every area of life this happens, not just corporate or Hollywood.
In Hollywood, everyone knows what upsets the celebrities. Once when I was on a World Tour with a known celebrity, I recall her yelling at me at the top of her lungs in public, promising to ruin my career due to her bathtub not being filled with warm almond milk when she arrived. I chose not to have that done due to time restraints on our itinerary and the traffic conditions in the areas. I choose for the betterment of her brand but, that did not stop her from laying on me. I have so many stories I could share about the DIVA mindset some Hollywood folks had. It was an amazing human study.
Throughout history, we see when someone had a difference of opinion or choose to think out-side the box of those in authority, death or being outcasted was imminent. Socrates was killed simply because he brought new ideas to Athens.
Galileo was sentenced to prison for life by the Church and considered a heretic for his beliefs. He desperately did his best to make his discoveries a discussion rather than a belief but the Church decided that their opinion was fact. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest, simply because he shared his ideas about the sun being at the center of the solar system.
Recently, Marc Randolph shared a post on LinkedIn discussing how he and his partners created Netflix and how Blockbuster turned down the idea of a partnership with them. that is not as extreme as prison or death but it was the death of Blockbuster.
We could go on and on with stories like Kodak, Blackberry, etc. All of them have the same story and it all boils down to the need to be the "Yes" Seeker.
Companies hire great thinkers, yet, the great thinkers can get stuck with the idea that “They” are the greatest thinker in their company.
The noun "Leader" is just another name for "Employee" – It’s equal in that everyone is trying to stay relevant and that is where the danger lies.
The best leaders are not “Yes seekers". The best employees don't always say "Yes". Both of these types of people are the same.
They both go against their nature.
They don't look for like-minded followers.
They embrace differences of thought, personalities, image, communication styles, and backgrounds so that they can learn something new.
Some examples of when Leaders/Employee broke the norm of being a Yes Seeker.
Remember William Wallace known as Braveheart? You may have seen the movie. He resisted the King of England and would have succeeded but one leader did not have the vison to support him. He was a "Yes" man.
My point is, in his decision to resist, Wallace created an out-of-the-box way to battle opponents compared to England’s way of “This is how we have done it” type of fighting. Their military (processes/protocol) was to walk in single line formation banging a drum as if they were a High School marching band.
Wallace was about fighting to win, not formality. How many Gen-Z companies are doing that today with their start-up businesses?
Wallace also included those in the front-line battles with him in his strategy meetings. He knew who to include as an advisors because Wallace was also in the fight and saw who the real warriors were. This also inspired others to follow. Gen-Z companies are doing the exact same thing.
As an NLP Practitioner and Executive Behavioral Coach, I find that human nature is no different today than it was thousands of years ago. Every village (company) has their own superstitions, rituals, and ways that are real and most important to them.
The new norm in business must evolve, especially now that we are learning more about the human condition than ever before.
We have learned that emotions dictate actions regardless of your education, position, or title.
According to neurologist, neuroplasticity is defined as the selective organizing of connections between neurons in our brains. This means, when we repeat practice (how we manage people or business) we believe it to be the right way to do things, because of memory (past success) which is nothing more then a neural network -- groups of neurons that fire together, creating electrochemical pathways. These networks shape themselves according to that activity or memory.
When we feel that our thoughts have to be protected from the influence of others. When we are confronted with differences in opinion, the chemicals that are released in the brain are the same ones that try to ensure our survival in dangerous situations.
When we hear new ideas, take a class, or try to embrace change of any kind, if we are not consciously changing daily behavior with conscious activity, the brain will eventually eliminate, or "prune," the connecting cells that formed the new pathways.
Like in a system of freeways connecting various cities, the more cars going to certain destination, the wider the road that carries them needs to be. The fewer cars traveling that way, however, the fewer lanes are needed. This is why Neuroscientists have been chorusing "cells that fire together, wire together" since the late 1990s. This is the scientific reason why we struggle to change. Training is useless without infusing it into daily activity and training rarely address this but rather provides high level overviews.
It does not matter if you’re the Captain or the Cook on a ship, if there is a hole in you boat, you both are sinking.