Some look at things that are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not? ”George Bernard Shaw
The recent and ongoing corporate scandals have led many of us to soul-searching and a reexamination of organizational leadership. Many companies do an incredible amount of harm to people and to our planet, thus adversely affecting future generations. In almost every organization, be it social, corporate, religious, or governmental, we observe those of a high financial or political rank ”the organizational elites ”taking advantage of their power and position to benefit themselves at the expense of those beneath them in the hierarchy. I have, however, a pervasive and enduring hope in our common human capacity for goodness; and I still believe that creating successful organizations is our best avenue for establishing global prosperity and peace . But we need to reconcile two contrasting positions : Are global corporations to be viewed as the great threat to future global prosperity, or as the great hope for future global prosperity? Whichever wins out ”corruption and abuse of power or global peace and prosperity ”I believe, will depend on the context we create for governing our organizations.
Unfortunately, as we have seen, the rank-based thinking of the myth of leadership creates an environment of low trust, lower morale , and even criminal activity, as determined by two principles: (1) genuine communication will occur only between equals and (2) secrecy breeds corruption and abuse of power. In any organization where inequality and secrecy dominate organizational life, lack of trust will be endemic, and even good people, eventually seduced by their privileges of rank, will abuse power. These principles hold in any organization, whether it is a family, a church , a government, or a corporation. The key is to know how to design organizations that recognize these two principles in order to create companies of peers where there are no secrets. That is the challenge I have addressed in this book ”the challenge of creating peer-based organizations.