From West to East and North to South, global power structures and mechanisms are shifting, confirming the premises of a fast emerging world order
Always remember the people. They vote, pay their taxes and, naturally, have growing expectations, particularly if they have internet access and are exposed to varied networks and multiple sources of information. Ignoring legitimate citizen needs for reform amid their access to information will empower your opponents and, hey, by the way, people may grow to increasingly hate you.. Instead, you can empower people: listen, communicate, deliver. This is not whitewashing, it’s smart policy: if you want a legacy and not just millions in your accounts, grow with due care for sustainability.
This affects everyone, from politicians with regional or global vision and ambitions, to transnational business players. Consequently, tycoons and other strong individual power players should pay due attention to current global trends and opportunities, while minimizing threats to their business and interests. This includes a need for quick adjustment in terms if strategy and skills, this article being dedicated to a set of commandments for a successful transition to the new world order:
1. Focus in terms of strategy and comms on one big command: Reform.
Reform is good to embrace and great to be seen doing: everyone likes a caring reformer eager to help modernize his country or business, including investing in the community. In times where reputations crash and burn in a matter of days, talking the talk and walking the walk in terms of modernization is essential for moral ascendency. This is particularly relevant for oligarchs who are publicly involved in politics as party leaders (formally or in the shadow) or as state officials - positions from which pushing reforms is not only possible, but also highly desirable and expected.
2. Make no graven image of yourself.
Too much power -or the perception of exagerated power- is dangerous and so is the cult of personality. Stay periodically under the radar, since hunting season is full on in a complex, interconnected world. Handling communication wisely and projecting power only in key moments are the secrets your “yes (wo)men” won’t tell you: get a competent "nay" advocate in your strategy team asap. Economic and political power in the hands of one person, regardless of his or her intentions, is, unless you play your cards strategically, too much to take for the people and an endless source of criticism coming from the opposition. So, manage expectations wisely: there is peril, not just opportunity, in crisis times. This year could be glorious, next year could spell disaster, in case you pick the wrong fights.
3. Do not take the power of the people in vain.
Always remember the people. They vote, pay their taxes and, naturally, have growing expectations, particularly if they have internet access and are exposed to varied networks and multiple sources of information. Ignoring legitimate citizen needs for reform amid their access to information will empower your opponents and, hey, by the way, people may grow to increasingly hate you.. Instead, you can empower people: listen, communicate, deliver. This is not whitewashing, it's smart policy: if you want a legacy and not just millions in your accounts, grow with due care for sustainability.
4. Get a varied A team, keep them close.
A tycoon, or any other power player in fact, without a faithful team of varied professionals is vulnerable and might not be able to stay influent in the years to come. Changes happen with unprecedented speed, you need people to tell you which wave is wise to ride. Money and positions are not forever, but the people you cultivate will be there for you, should you treat them right and listen to their advice. Smart advice: cultivate smart people. While trust is important, it's better to have somebody also competent on board; as the saying goes, "rather than a dum friend, go for a smart opponent" - so why not invest in a wise friend?
5. Honour your political commitments and patrons.
On your way to the top, you probably made quite a few promises and commitments, you had political support or business patrons. Honour them with professionalism, promises need to be kept if you want long term success. Of course, you may say politicians are shallow and may not respond in kind, but it's a risk worth taking.. In times of uncertainty, promises kept are the best business card and at least a minimal guarantee that you will not be blacklisted as a priority in the context of power transitions. Build bridges across the aisle as a reasonable power-and-business player for continued success: everyone has favourites but it's ok to talk to political opponents since today's competitor may be tomorrow's ally. In backchannels you should trust.
Instead of a conclusion, a last piece of advice, not a sense of any commandment: do not pursue power at any cost. Ambition is great and gets the engine going but strategy and moderation are key in 2017+’s power game, where the logic of polarization has taken over. Just watch global TV for one hour daily, you will see what I mean. Power at any cost now will become very pricey soon, as the new world order is rapidly in the making. No one can be too confident, since "heroes (of the day/month/year)" rise and fall faster than ever before in history. Prepare to burnout quickly unless proper "war rooms" and long term strategies are in place.
*International analyst, former Prime Ministerial advisor