Setting up – context
I have just started a new contract. I am finding it to be a thrilling, exciting and challenging season in my life. I am surrounded by unfamiliar words and terms, as well as a stretching schedule. I am going to be working hard, but hopefully having fun too! Whilst I am excited about the new challenge before me, I am not writing about that. I am attempting to communicate some musings in my head, following a comment made by the current French President, Macron. Apparently and – this is a story told second hand via a colleague, a French person was not showing Macron the proper degree of respect.
Rather than walk away Macron actively challenged this and said ‘No, I am the President ‘. This set me thinking – is the flat-earth structure of our society helping or hindering us?
What am I talking about?
Now I realise that you are probably thinking – what does she mean? What I mean is that we have started to prefer flat structures in our businesses and professional lives, to hierarchical ones. The new and fashionable tech start-ups will say things like ‘we have a flat office culture’ which basically means that everyone has a say in the business in terms of how it is managed and what its future direction should look like.
In theory there is nothing harmful about that right? If you are an entry-grade associate but you fancy getting the ear of the CEO there is nothing stopping you. I remember reading about a company that specifically endorses feedback from the highest to the lowest. The newbies are encouraged to score their supervisors on certain behavioural characteristics and the feedback is then given to the supervisors. Imagine that for a second.
How would that sit with you? To know that someone who three months into a business that you have spent 20 years working in, could tell you what your growth areas are. The end-goal for everyone is surely, to feel comfortable and OK with receiving feedback. But what if the feedback is not carefully delivered and comes from a place that is less than loving?
Discussion – our desire for flat-earth culture and why it is wrong.
Or – lets talk about something else? Social media has allowed us to communicate with each-other on a ridiculous scale. Again, lets celebrate this. We all look back in horror at the closed off societies of the eastern bloc and the misery that created. Social and creative expression, to my mind is always going to be preferable to silence. Social media has meant that we have experienced a perception of uprisings, political and social that would have been silenced in a different time.
There is no ‘but’ to this sentence. You cannot argue successfully against freedom of expression. You can encourage measured and fact-based dialogue. But freedom of speech means that anyone with a social media account can get a stage and start speaking. A person without knowledge of a topic or understanding of nuance can get equal space on the airwaves to a person with in-depth experience and expertise.
Is this OK and something that we can all stomach? I feel like we should be able to as we all have a responsibility to inform ourselves well enough to be able to call out public figures when they are spouting things that are incorrect. For example, lets pick something obvious. We all know about climate change. Regardless of whether it is happening more quickly or more slowly, climate change in undeniable.
People can disagree with this but if you are in public life and disagree, you are picked off and called to account. Quite right or quite wrong? I am not necessarily offering a solution, just musing on the fact of this. Public figures are NOT allowed to disagree with public opinion on something contentious, despite our apparent desire for everyone to have freedom of speech.
A flat-earth structure means that your average Joe can hold a public figure to account on a contentious issue and expect, quite rightly that they should agree, even if the politician has access to facts and figures which means that they are correct. What do we think or conclude from this?
I am fan of “House of Cards” and am now coming to the end of series three. Kevin Spaceys character, Francis Underwood is now president and has decided to run again for a second term.
During a televised debate between his character and his ‘underling’ who is also running he goes from attacking the obvious opposition to rounding on her. Their characters laid out a deal which I shall not bore you all with; except to say that it was a ‘You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ deal.
This was all apparently forgotten in this debate as he called her to task on the way that she had done something. During the evening she came to the president, played by Spacey and expressed her anger at the way that she was treated. I felt mixed emotions.
There was a righteous anger within the character as she told her boss what she was feeling and why she thought he was wrong. But the way that Spacey responded was uncomfortably stirring. It reminded me that some leadership positions and consequential decisions are made without a consensus of the masses.
Sometimes, the leader leads without an approval rating from everyone. I would suggest that it reminded me that in a world of flat-earth politics, hierarchy still matters. We should consider our opinions and give them considerately – and exhibit an understanding of our position and a respect for leadership.
God calls me out on this time and time again – what about you?
Rosie Robinson is a Press Service International young writer from England