A first step in implementation of healthy governance frameworks.Mankind is represented in the good, the bad and the ugly. We are after all human and not infallible, although some world leaders, no names mentioned, might argue.
If you are exposed to power abuse, even through the simple awareness of it, I believe you partake in the wrong and injustice if you don’t speak up and act but remain indifferent. Sitting back and saying nothing whilst people in power make bad decisions and abuse their position has consequences. No matter what the implications, you have a choice to look after your conscience and integrity. Leaders, founders, successful entrepreneurs, owners, all need to be challenged and listen to advice. This will in turn help them to understand their impact and remain grounded. Indifference of extortionate proportions took place in the second world war with the Nazi movement and the holocaust. Power has the lure to attract complacency and acceptance. It also brings in supporters who want to look after their own motives, investments and ambitions. I have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly throughout my 25 year tenure working with corporates and headhunting in the C Suite. Observing boards and taking roles in them and other forums has opened my eyes.
The social media society we live in today is so driven by self-promotion that we automatically think that the known personalities in the media, CEOs of global companies and the heads of government are the chosen ones because they are better, brighter, smarter, more beautiful and have the people’s and organization’s best interest. This is not necessarily always true. We need to scrutinize choices, hiring decisions and our approach to elections both politically and to boards. Question propaganda and carry out thorough due diligence. Put in place mechanisms that protect democracy and keep a state of healthy governance through the proper assessment of key people and defining the roles they are placed in.
I would like to challenge you to think about how you can make a difference? We all can make a difference and it can start right here today with the first step:
Standing up to the bully in your workplace, collaborating with others to promote a balanced view, caring for those you love and respect, being a better friend, teaching your children empathy and life skills, engaging in your community and looking after elderly members in your family. Stop buying products that are produced through child labour, avoid non-sustainably produced products which add to the destruction of our beautiful planet. Start promoting fair trade and corporate social responsibility initiatives that are not just PR stunts, but are making a real difference in the local communities. Run a marathon for a good cause and support someone else. Start engaging in your environment. Start walking more or cycling and drive less. This is good for your health and for the environment. You can support human rights activists, educate yourself and partake in current affair debates. The options are endless for you to make better choices and be aware. The communication with others and proactive connection to the truth creates awareness. This empowers people to be accountable which makes a big difference. The heart of my message is that we need to do our best, to be responsible, care for and reward those who work hard and gain results through good ethical means. Stand up for what is right. We are inherently good. We just sometimes go off the beaten track and need to be guided back. There are a lot of people who like to look good but who might not be doing good?
Having worked in the world of business, private equity, money markets, oil corporates and for governments, one comes across all kinds of people. From excellent, inspiring, to sometimes bad characters who should not hold the positions they are in. People who are not worthy the trust empowered upon them. These people need to be dealt with, held accountable and asked why they do certain things. Values need to be addressed and transparency upheld at all times.
Money makes many cut corners. Some will go further than that and take advantage of weaker individuals and capitalize on their position of strength. The time has come to look after our future, empower the weak, nurture the good, have a closer eye on individuals in power, question their accountability, their drivers and intentions.
Governance in the boardroom is dependent on the individuals around the table. Without a good balanced, diverse composition of individuals with strong, good values and ethics we will see negative results and bad behaviour. Unhealthy governance can easily destabilize the entire corporate structure and jeopardize the business. Bad CEOs are often kept for too long. The board's role is to hire the right CEO and fire a bad CEO. Data shows that diversity might be more relevant than expertise and that for optimal solutions, there should be a reasonable balance between exchanging information through dialogue and preserving independence of thought of each member. We need independent and ethical board members.
We have a gift: Our voice, free speech, voting and working with others to make this difference. We are so fortunate, so blessed, we live in the western world where there are human rights and others before us have fought long and hard for a world where equal rights and civil rights matter.
We are not completely there yet but we have come far. There are many who are constantly striving to improve this planet and the way we govern our nations, our organizations, schools and how we look at our future and how we connect etc. Look at Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Dalai Lama, and Malala Yousafzai. Without their footprints of example, drive, tenacity and passionate messages we would be worse off. Their existence has led to a greater positive balance of power. They have opened up for the need for a world that strives to learn from the good examples that have gone before: The Nelson Mandelas, Mother Teresas and Martin Luther Kings. We must protect all their efforts and many others aside to develop new paths that will lead to further ground breaking positive changes.
I want to see a world where my children experience good examples from the world of business and politics and can be inspired to engage and take a role in shaping their future and their children's. More people like Jack Ma, Group Chief Executive Officer and Chair of Alibaba Group who has decided to return to his passion teaching to give back. Another is Sheryl Sandberg Chief Operating officer of Facebook and first female board director of the company who inspires women and men alike through her example, books and talks. There are many great examples out there and the first step is to start being one.
Good leadership examples lead to great companies. Good well functioning boards lead to industry leaders. Good stable governance leads to good conscience.