From Norway to North Korea

In this week’s “Inside the Mind of Champions”, I had the opportunity to discuss my life’s work with former England cricketer and sports psychologist, Jeremy Snape, founder of Sporting Edge, a world-class digital learning and live events platform that aims to inspire mindset and behaviour change in business.

During our discussion, I shared my view that whilst most of us live in a democracy like Norway, when we go to work, we travel to an autocracy like North Korea. This sounds like an extreme analogy, and I use it deliberately to make the point that almost all workplaces operate as coercive, controlling, bureaucratic, compliance “régimes”. The only time democracy works is when we vote to join an organisation, or vote to leave it. For the rest of the time, the quality of our working lives largely depends on the moral character of our leader. If we’re lucky, they will be inspiring, supportive and human. If we’re not, they will be narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, or all of these dark traits.

Jeremy also asked me to summarize what else I’ve learned in my professional practice as The Corporate Philosopher over the last 22 years. They are: hire character, train skill; leadership is a team sport; the culture we experience at work is local; define a moral purpose and values; do the right thing in the right way.

You can listen to the podcast on Spotify here, or on Apple here.

Thinking Allowed is a weekly blog of essential reading for anyone interested in better thinking and decision-making at work. It is written by Roger Steare, the Corporate Philosopher, a Financial Times columnist and author of books and ebooks with sales of over 600,000 copies.

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