Communication is at the heart of everything that happens every day. From looking out the window in the morning to see what the weather is like, to hearing the news when the radio wakes you up, every day starts and finishes with communication. And it continues into the night with dreams. We learn every day from communications.
So hear's what we learned about Naploeon when we were young. Nothing. Oh yes, we know that he was small (he wasn't), he was similar to Hitler (he wasn't) and that he was French (he wasn't). And he was the baddie.
So here's a few things that are true.
Naploeon was Corsican. He was average height, and he was nothing like Hitler. That connection is made because they both forgot that Russia is really really cold.
Napoleon was a disrupter. He arrived on the scene immediately after the French Revolution, that had been the disruption of all disruptions, especially if you were an ariostocrat. It disrupted the connection between your head and your body.
At the end of the Revolution, after the Terror and various attempts at new ways to govern, Napoleon wangled his way into the Triumvirate that ruled for a year or two. Then with a bit more politicking, he became the First Consul, set out, and became the Emperor of France (his ego got a little large at this point).
But on the journey he kept his eyes on the prize that the Revolution had delivered, Equality, Fraternity and Liberty.
The result of this that Napoleon accessed the talent pool that was in France. Up until then the Aristocracy had ruled the roost. All the top jobs went to them, all the land was owned by them, and the people (that's you and me) were used to facitiltate their way of life.
Then Napoloeon started to recruit on merit. The French legal system, education system and road system were all developed during the short reign of the Little Corporal (remember he wasn't little really). His army was no longer commanded by the nobility, as to put it bluntly, they were useless. His Generals and top brass could come from anywhere, and had shown themselves to him in battle. (Napoloeon was a disrupter in warfare too, a genius.) He had to fight the attempts to re-introduce heirarchies and he failed a lot of the time. His success started to change him, as not many people would say no, and so he thought he was right most of the time.But overall, he was a good guy, loved by the French people. And France is still a Republic. Without a ruling family and an aristocracy.
But here in the UK, in 2020, we haven't got that far, 205 years later. My problem with the Royal family still being in place is not personal, I don't know them, but is with the system that enables people to be "better" by appointment or birth.
There is no doubt that meeting a member of the Royal Family is a memorable moment. I have grown up with two matriacrhs in the family, my Mum and the Queen. Both have been around all my life. And so if I met the Queen, I would be, as everyone else is, in awe.
But she is the top of the title tree, and it is the impact of the titles that I believe needs to change. I have been in a meetings with members of the old aristocracy. As soon as one arrives the room changes, they are a little like Napoleon, in that their word is more forceful than everyone elses, as they are used to getting their way. Why? Because of how we act towards them. Our instinctive response is to be defferential. These people are deemed to be "better" than us. Not necessarily by them, but by our reaction, the way we have been bought up, the history we have been taught and the fact that we still live in a political system that endorses this thinking.
But heirarchies exist everywhere.
In your business and mine, titles are important. They communicate immediate information, from the length of service to the importance to the business.
In meetings titles get in the way. They prevent young untitled people from giving their thoughts and ideas as they give added importance to people that have no idea what they are talking about.
I have been in meetings in the Public Sector where a higher grade person gives their opinion on an area that I have a level of expertise in, communications. I have watched as people listen because of their grade, not because of what they have said. They are given precedence by other public sector people, who are specialists, They also don't listen to the experts either (not all by any means, but enough to be noticable).
So is it possible to run ungraded meetings, untitled meetings, level playing field meetings. Meetings where the start point is that everyone is equal. That all ideas are worth airing.
Talent is ageless, young talented people are not getting an airing, when they are more in tune with the world we live in. We have to think about liberty, equality and fraternity when we are in business of we are going to grow more dynamic modern businesses.