Wall Street’s character Gordon Gecko gave an insightful speech “Greed is Good”, highlighting greed as being the evolutionary key to success. For at least 30 years, this philosophy was considered to be a reflection of business practices and drive for profit at any costs. “Privatizing Profits and Socializing Losses” — became more than just a saying, it was practice.
Well, it is time to clear the floor, Gordon. You’ve got biology and evolution wrong.
The narrative around the “Survival of the Fittest” in a dog-eat-dog world, where one leaves emotions at the door to come out on top, proves dangerously shortsighted. Successful human interaction is the key to our evolutionary prowess — empathy, communication, constructive collaboration, and cooperation led us to where we are now on the evolutionary timescale.
“Darwin came to believe that survival of the fittest is as much about cooperation, symbiosis, and reciprocity as it is about individual competition and that the most fit are just as likely to enter in cooperative bonds with their fellows.” Jeremy Rifkin, The Empathic Civilization.
Low and behold — these are the key elements that garner success nowadays as well.
Like Whos down in Whoville, voices are rising calling to the importance of “Team Human”, like Douglas Rushkoff, and making the case to not try and bend people to technology or logirthms, but to find better ways to foster creativity, imagination, and social collaboration in order to better resolve the challenges and opportunities facing us in this new world order.
“The danger isn’t that machines might become human. The danger is that humans become machines.” It’s the infinite variability of human interaction that enables great inventions to happen.“ Peter Schein on machines taking over in the workplace and beyond.
Not the survival of the pointiest elbows or the best statistical models — but rather the voices are rising to show the success of constructive collaboration, co-creation, ability to empathize, and create adaptive solutions based on deeper understanding of complex systems as the keys to personal, professional, and innovation success.
Which is why understanding the emotional and social aspects of working collaboratively is paramount to any professional endeavor or leadership success. Or, as I like to say, if you won’t go there, you won’t get there.
Time is long past due for a more evolved type of leadership — the success of future endeavors and innovations depends on it.