Today, Jeannette Paladino wrote a great blog post about the protests in Cairo and the new era of leadership...one that is community driven…not lead by a dictator directing the lives of others (more about this subject below). Over the last six days, the anti-Mubarak protesters (those men and women who want to see drastic change in the Egyptian government) have reportedly been peaceful and cooperative.
But today, the scene took a turn for the worse as pro Mubarak groups prepared to “take over the crowd” by storming into Cairo on the backs of horses and camels. Bearing sticks and knives, the pro government group looked a bit archaic. They resorted to not only beating the protesters but attacking Americans like news CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Hala Goroni. Apparently Cooper was struck in the head at least ten times and after being confronted, pushed and hit, Goroni was escorted to safety by a protester.
As Jeannette mentioned, the use of social media and a new thought pattern about community leadership have come together to send us a huge message in our world…our next generation of thinkers and leaders want freedom and a voice. They know how to drive change by taking a stand (the early group of protesters were primarily men under the age of 30) and by using technology to pull together large crowds of people to drive their cause. They are sick and tired of being told what to do by government and leaders that are driven by archaic leadership styles. The fact that pro government groups charged into Cairo on the backs of camels and horses tells me that the current leadership in Egypt is operating with old thinking, and yes…it is time for change, and that change is going to get worse before things get better. Change hurts, and the majority of changes do often come with a bit of pain and sorrow. Just ask anyone who was involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s.
In May of 2008, by Byron Reeves, Thomas W. Malone, and Tony O’Driscoll wrote a compelling article in Harvard Business Review: Leadership’s Online Labs. In the article, the authors speak of a future type of leadership…a form of leadership they predict will be more of the norm based on their observations and research obtained by watching members of Generation Y (born 1977-1997) play online games like Eve Online, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft. In their studies, the authors predicted a type of leadership that would be similar to watching young men and women play games in a three-dimensional virtual world…one in which thousands of players collaborate with and compete against one another. With this new type of leadership, the authors also observed an interesting repeating pattern…there was no one leader in these virtual worlds…the groups were self-directed and would evolve even when a player was away from the game or taking a break for several days.
The organized protesters in Cairo are looking a great deal like the type of leadership described in this article. So, it is no surprise that Egypt is in turmoil and that many of the groups gathering have no true leader…Gen Y does not follow the leader…they follow groups, especially those which are creating change . What is disturbing is that this “peaceful protest” has now turned into violence.
I encourage you to continue to watch as this process unfolds to see how Generation Y is going to respond. And, expect to see a change in the way our world leads as a bi-product of this truly historical event.
- Egypt: What happens next? (cbc.ca)
- Camels & horses storm into Tahrir Square as protesters clash in Cairo + Kucinich: The US cannot pick the leaders of other countries (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)