Out of Sight… And Everything Is Ruined

Published 2. 7. 2024

The only way to overcome a crisis is to cooperate while being led by a true leader. Leaders are naturally necessary for our survival. And those who can’t lead or create an ideal environment for cooperation got their positions by mistake.


Boeing currently deals with manufacturing quality issues. Due to this, several accidents happened. There is never only one reason that leads to such fatal consequences. And even with Boeing, it is a set of causes that came together. One thing always repeats in large companies. And that is the alienation of the management from the rest of the company. Alienation from the ordinary.

And that’s exactly what happened to Boeing. Its management first moved from Seattle to Chicago. And then two years ago David Calhoun’s team headed to the suburbs of Washington.

Perhaps it was their intention to be closer to their customers. Or authorities. Including the Department of Defense. Which would be a good initial idea, but its result is bad. The move of management ended in the resignation of Calhoun himself.

Boeing management declared a different reason for the new address of their offices in the center of Chicago before Calhoun’s resignation. They presented it as a need to protect themselves from the influence and distraction of their manufacturing factories. The number of factories grew as the company diversified and merged with McDonnell Douglas.


Table of contents:
Parent and Daughter Fight
In Their Own World
Untouchable Leader
Empathy and Cooperation
Times of Crisis
The True Leader


Parent and Daughter Fight

When managers don’t fight the proximity bias, they can easily alienate from their team.

Proximity bias is related to the tendency of people to develop relationships and preferences for people who are physically closer to them as opposed to those who are rather distant. Others can perceive this as a deliberate disadvantage.

I have experienced this myself in the past. In the Schwarz Group, the largest retail chain in Europe. It had a parent company in Germany and daughter companies in the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Italy, and others. You can find Kaufland and Lidl all over Europe.

Even the daughter companies’ bosses started to isolate themselves after a while. They stopped communicating with their colleague from their mother company.

And this pattern repeats in all multinational companies.

Representatives from daughter companies don’t always tell you the truth. The further they are from their team, the less likely it is they will reveal all of the issues. In connection with this, they distort teams’ results. They will see you as an enemy over time. Not as their ally. And they will start to surmise that you think of them badly. Or want to limit them somehow.


Radim Pařík
Photo: Radim Pařík, author


In Their Own World

A great example is politics. Many MPs are detached from the reality of ordinary people’s lives. And that’s only because they have always been politicians. What I mean by that is that the only job they ever did was delivering election leaflets in their “young democrats” times.

And then they gradually, by being assistants and members in their work teams, got to elective positions. And continue as members of parliament. That means they have been surrounded by politicians all their lives. And although they may not actually be far from their constituents, they live in their own world.

This means that distance doesn’t have to always be a physical issue.

In large corporations, it can be challenging for leaders to stay in touch with their teams. They are busy and because of that they often stop focusing on the human touch.

A deep gap can appear between what happens on the lower and upper floors. And when a manager or director asks for feedback, their subordinates or colleagues are then afraid to provide it. Their answers tend to be adjusted to the expectations of the top manager.

As happened to Putin at the beginning of the war. Army commanders, ministers, and advisers told him only things he wanted to hear. Why? For many reasons. Most often out of fear. For sure it still continues this way in Russia.

I often see this from the point of view of senior managers. They are lonely people. No one comes to them with good news. Everyone waits only for decisions to be made. That means that all the responsibility is put on managers. Employees often don’t dare to come up with problems for their managers at a time when there is still a chance to resolve the situation calmly. Or without a major negative impact on the company. Here we come back to the situation in Boeing.


Nedotknutelný vládce


Untouchable Leader

This is less of a problem in small companies where people are closer to each other. And in general, they are more equal to each other.

Of course, even in these environments, alienation can appear. For example, when a manager or owner starts to feel they are something more than their colleagues. Just because they are in a higher position in the company. Or because they build the company and give work to others.

And this is the thing that affects all of us. And has an impact on our daily lives. It’s an egocentric bias. It’s not just a problem for managers and business owners. Each of us thinks we are a little more important than others.

This happens often. I heard of that a lot from my colleague and friend Anne-Martje Oud.

She spoke about this issue at one of our conferences at Prague Castle last year. We organized a conference with our Association of Negotiators. Anne-Martje advises the heads of multinational corporations on how to manage communication with others. She has cooperated with well-known brands, such as Google, Mercedes Benz, and Louis Vuitton.


Empathy and Cooperation

At this year’s conference, we are going to focus on leadership.

Leadership of the future. Which must be built on cooperation, not isolation. We live in an era of unprecedented challenges and opportunities. The climate crisis is here, global health issues, and changes in societal values. All of these are overriding our individual priorities.

Globalization and geopolitics shift the world’s tectonic plates. The ways of our work and lives are reshaped by technological advancements and the advent of digital generations.

The theme of the conference is a response to the crisis of world leadership. And to an evolutionary need for leaders in times of crises and conflicts. The World Economic Forum identified the main reason for the current crisis, the difference between power and competence of the “leaders”.

Those who rule, and it doesn’t matter whether it is in the companies or politics, fail to fulfill their responsibilities as leaders. And they don’t see the needs and desires of the people they lead as a priority.

In many countries, people who don't care about the prosperity of the country are in power. This class of people thinks of themselves first. And only tolerates others. Of course, there are also countries where the political situation is even worse than this.


Ray Dalio
Photo: Ray Dalio, economist and investor


Times of Crisis

The world changes. And it will never look the same as it does now. The climate, society, as well as economy, is changing right before our eyes.

A well-known economist and investor Ray Dalio talks about the so-called debt cycles during which geopolitical power is shifted. If Ray is not mistaken, we are on a steep downhill ride to the very bottom of the economy and social relations.

The only way to overcome crises is by cooperating under the leadership of a true leader. Our need to have leaders is a consequence of the evolutionary drive to survive. And the same applies to cooperation. Therefore, those leaders who fail to motivate their people to cooperate are in their positions by mistake.


The True Leader

A true leader will never leave you.

Quite the opposite. They will always be by your side. Playing for the same team. And will have the persistent courage to give you competence and faith in your abilities to change the world around you for the better.

Next to the true leader, you will feel safe. And you won’t fear coming up with ideas.

A true leader is able to gain respect and control themselves. They should be able to stop their ego to talk for them and listen to you.

Experts say leaders should have the ability to take a global, interdisciplinary perspective. To be able to plan long-term and empirically. To have strong communication skills and prioritize social justice and well-being over financial growth. They should also be empathetic and have courage and morals as well as be collaborative.