Leadership lessons from the fourth wave

Herman Bryant Maynard, Jr. & Susan E. Mayrtens wrote back in 1993 “The Fourth Wave: Business in the 21st Century.”

Maynard and Mayrtens invited readers to consider the following visions of the new corporation:

As an exemplar for other institutions in society. The new leader can teach other business, government, church and the community in which it operates through its example. As a global citizen acting locally, while thinking globally. To me, this is live Mick Yates leadership paradox. We act local, but dream of a better future for everyone.

Maynard and Mayrtens also suggested other possible visions for the new corporation:

As an advocate of the living economy, practicing social and resource accounting.
As an organisation committed to serve, aware of its identity as a producer of moral effects.
As a community of wellness, aware of the full range of its corporate stakeholders.
As a model of environmental concern.
As a pioneer in appropriate technologies, skilled in technology assessment.
As an organisation led by bio-politicians who are fully aware of their responsibility to realise the destiny of modern men and women.

As Maynard and Mayrtens assert, the business of business is not only business. In recent decades, business has emerged as the dominant institution in global culture. The other institutions of society - political, educational, religious, and social - have a decreasing ability to offer effective leadership: their resources limited, their following fragmented, their legitimacy increasingly questioned, politicians, academics, priests, and proselytizers have neither the resources not the flexibility to mount an effective response to the manifold challenges we are facing. Business, by default, must begin to assume responsibility for the whole.

With this hair shirt mantle of leadership, I suggest, comes responsibility. We live and work in societies where everyone is aware of their rights but forget their responsibilities. Rights and responsibilities are two sides of the one coin, like leadership and followership.

As contemporary futurists, social and business analysts, and businesspersons see this challenge, business must begin to identify the needs of the planet and move to fill these needs. In doing so, business will take on a much wider range of activities and, more importantly, come to be redefined in the process.

Resistance to change correlates directly to the level of fear in a given environment. New corporations require new leadership. As leaders, we must mitigate and manage that fear.
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