I’ve just spent a great week in Oslo involved in helping up and coming executives develop their leadership skills.
We had a good mix of people from a wide range of countries including, of course, Norway.
It was very interesting to observe different cultures in action from North America, Europe, India and China, and how all evolved as one team during the week.
Once again, I was shown how well people work together when they have the trust and confidence to open up and be themselves.
The secret of this workshop is the requirement that all participants are not allowed to share their qualifications, who they work for, what their job title is and where they come from.
As a result, all the participants are equal in status during the week.
It is only at the very end of the workshop they share details of who they work for and their job title.
It is fascinating to watch how everyone interacts when we remove all the baggage associated with status.
As we all know when we meet someone for the first time after introducing ourselves and sharing our name very often the first question is all about who you work for and what your job title is.
Once this information is known the future conversation is adjusted accordingly.
The trust and openness that happened naturally during the workshop is truly inspiring.
No longer shackled by the theatre that is associated with rank and status the individuals behave in a natural way.
This can be compared to the way young children behave before they are exposed to rank and authority.
This is not a scientific conclusion but please bear with me for a minute.
If this small group of people I’m referring to can trust each other and work together for the best for all, and not just for themselves then why can this not happen in real life?
The group came from countries that have a total population of 3.2 billion, 43 per cent of the total population of the world.
Unfortunately, in the real world we must deal with the dreaded word status.
In India we have the caste system, in established religions we have branches of the religion that are viewed as inferior, skin colour has for many negative connotations and the so-called developed world has a superior view of themselves when compared with the so-called developing world.
During the week there were many tear-filled eyes sessions and by the end of the week everyone left with their eyes wide open.
They experienced first hand over seven days what it is like to have a pure and uncontaminated relationship.
Everyone treated everyone else as equals and as a result looked after the best interests of each other.
I leave Norway with my view of humanity once again filled with hope and optimism.
I am also reminded of a company where there are no job titles and no structural organisation where status and power are normally exhibited.
In this company there is only one job title and that is Chief Executive Officer and that only exists because it is a legal requirement in the country where the company operates.
That’s another story for another time.
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at [email protected]