Archives for posts with tag: information

This well-known saying often attributed to French lawyer and politician Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, highlights the balancing act required of politicians in our society but the behaviour of some, begs the question;

Are they truly our representatives or do they dance to their own tune?

In a representative democracy, politicians are sent to parliament or congress to put forward the views and aspirations of the people who elected them but once there, they must make laws for all citizens and there is where the problems can begin.

In most countries, elections are only held every 3-4 years so there is an inevitable lag between voter intent and political action, yet in the 21st century, the mood of the public has never been more evident to those in power. There are polls almost daily that seek to take the temperature of the electorate and these have shown that in most Western nations, the broader public has consistently proven to be ahead of governments on key social and even geopolitical issues, so why it is that more than a few elected representatives seem to be actively pulling in the opposite direction?

The 2016 election ‘circus’ in the US was ample evidence of this phenomenon with some candidates putting enormous effort in to being as far from the ‘mainstream’ (i.e. rational thinking) as possible but it is also apparent in Australia at present, where polls indicate that an important civil rights issue due to be put before a national referendum will pass with a significant majority, yet a number of politicians have already announced they will vote against the proposal, even if the nation votes in favour of it.

In a country where voting is compulsory and participation is close to 100%, the intent of the people is rarely in doubt, so how does their personal agenda even warrant a mention?

Notwithstanding that post the next election these folks will likely be unemployed,  there is in their behaviour, a cautionary note for us all. The GFC has painfully brought home the lesson that when people are entrusted with our money or granted authority over us, we must actively take an interest in what they are doing and saying and if they seem to be acting in their own interests rather than ours, we must hold them accountable.

As the old Russian proverb goes: “Trust but verify”. To do otherwise is asking for trouble.

The message for leaders? Staying in touch with your customers and your people is critical. If you are not paying attention they may change direction and you will be left running after them, trying to figure out what went wrong…


In many cultures complaining (whingeing or whining) seems to be looked on in a negative way and if it is without real reason or substance that is understandable. No-one wants someone raining on their parade (or their day). In the workplace however, it is often treated even more harshly in the belief that complaining will bring down morale. Most leaders will attempt to get the complainer to stop and some may even ‘performance manage’ them if they continue but I believe that this is counterproductive. If we look at this on a macro scale we can see that what is happening in Syria at the moment is a result of unaddressed grievances and approach is to try and crush the dissent. In reality, history has shown that all this leads to is better recruiting for the dissenters. Whether on a macro or micro scale, human behaviour is pretty consistent. In a relationship, if one partner doesn’t feel listened to or understood, the relationship will often break down. This is a very similar dynamic to the workplace.  Many years ago I tried a little experiment with an employee representative from an operation that I has been assigned to run. This person had a reputation for being very difficult and vocally negative towards managers and her reputation reached me even before I had assumed the leadership role. Rather than avoid her or confront her in an adversarial way, I invited her to meet with me and asked her to tell me her story and the history of the operation. This took her by surprise. As she recounted the history, she included many of the grievances that had arisen over time and interestingly, to me at least, many seemed to be justified. Importantly I did not try to make excuses for the organisation-I simply used Naked Clue #2  (Ask Questions and Shut up and Listen) and let her have her say. When she had finished I asked her if she would like to help me solve the problems she had raised. Again she was surprised but agreed. Now I must say that the supervisors that worked for me were also surprised as they saw this woman as a thorn in their side and not someone worthy of engaging with and so were somewhat disbelieving of my approach. However the relationship slowly got off the ground and as time passed I had the employee rep involved in all the major changes that affected the employees and things went pretty smoothly. On occasion she was able to sell the changes to the employees on my behalf and it turned out to be much more effective than simply ramming them through. Since then when I meet whingers (or am coaching managers dealing with them) the approach is to given them the time to air their grievances in an non adversarial environment and to thank them for doing so. Whingers are often the tip of the iceberg and perhaps the only ones honest enough to speak out about issues affecting the team. While their approach may be less than ideal it is important to look for the kernel of what they are saying and see if it has any value. Often listening (without offering excuses or justification) is enough and you can always ask them for solutions to the issues which in the end turns them from an annoyance into an asset and isn’t that much better?