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Alaina Love
Leadership author

Alaina Love

Alaina Love is co-author, with Marc Cugnon, of The Purpose Linked Organization and co-founder of Purpose Linked Consulting.

Mubarak's chance for better legacy

Question: Egypt's unfolding political crisis raises a broader question: Can an entrenched, powerful leader, one who has resisted change, successfully lead a country or an organization in a different direction if circumstances suddenly demand it? Or is it necessary to bring in new leadership?

Entrenched, powerful leaders who are resistant to change are the least likely candidates for successfully leading a country or an organization in a different and fundamentally transformative direction. These leaders cannot be the solution, because they are the problem. Mubarak's leadership failure has been in choosing not to anticipate the aspirations of Egypt's people. His behavior has been the antithesis of the French expression "gerer c'est prevoir," which means "leading is foreseeing."

As Einstein said, "No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it," and such is the case with Mubarak. He would do well to consider recent examples from the corporate world. Leaders at GM, as case in point, could not be instruments of change and growth for the company because they spent more time lobbying against emission standards than they did producing climate-friendly vehicles. The market responded by purchasing cars from GM's competitors and the rest, as they say, is history. Those same leaders have since been "invited" to leave the party and new, progressive leadership has taken the helm at GM.

It is important to note that change in the case of Egypt, just like change in the case of GM, has not been sudden and without forewarning. It was a slowly fermenting stew that has now come to boil and is seeping over the edges of the pot. The Mubarak regime has chosen to either ignore the needs of the population or wrongfully (and arrogantly) assume that it could indefinitely stifle the voices of Egypt's citizens, including the young and tech savvy among them. In a world of almost instant communication and information access, the folly of that approach is evident to any leader willing to dial back their ego long enough to connect with the experiences of the average individual--those struggling to make ends meet or support a family.

At this point in Egypt's history, Mubarak's legacy as a leader will depend in large part on his response to this current crisis. Will we see him step aside in favor of a peaceful transition to a better government, without protracted scenes of bloodshed and looting, or will he instead borrow a page from Tiananmen Square? Let's hope Mubarak's love for Egypt, like the love any great leader should have for his organization, supersedes his desire for power. And may other leaders in similar states of denial learn from this example.

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By Alaina Love

 |  February 1, 2011; 10:32 AM ET
Category:  Crisis leadership , Failures , Government leadership , Managing Crises , Political leadership , Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Leadership: Part action, part perception | Next: Four obstacles for Mubarak

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It is clear that Mubarak's oppressive, autocratic regime must come to an end, and soon. Egypt is calling for change and Mubarak represents the antithesis of such progressivism. As protests continue, and the need for a new leader becomes ever more solidified, it is necessary to consider who will - and should - become the new president. Rather than mollify the demands of the nation, Egypt needs a leader that embodies the goals, motivations, and ideals of the country. In the throes of a political crisis, the risk of internecine struggles could draw attention away from the core issues currently engendering protest. Egypt does not simply need a new president; it deserves a leader who exemplifies change and transformation. Reverberations from this crisis have the potential to be felt around the globe. The world is watching, eagerly.

Posted by: colleenfugate | February 4, 2011 12:31 PM
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Egypt is currently in an unprecedented state of hectic and frenzied chaos. This ongoing run of protests in the Middle Eastern country in which the people are dissatisfied with its government and, especially, President Hosni Mubarak’s self-fulfilling regime, demands for just restoration of the currently unbalanced economic and human rights conditions. They feel neglected and misrepresented by President Mubarak’s rigid tyrannical dominance. Although President Mubarak has attempted to please the masses by employing Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate Omar Suleiman as Vice-President, his efforts are “too little, too late” and it seems it is quite obvious; the people want a new leader.

Egyptian demonstrators will not stop until they achieve their demands for a new, more respectful government and are urging the termination of President Mubarak’s presidency. Leadership is based off the leader-follower relationship and, in this case, that connection has long been spoiled, ruined and shattered. Their trust in his abilities to lead the country cannot be restored and, in fact, President Mubarak is no longer a leader in their eyes; just a powerful man in a powerful position. Though, it is possible for other leaders to instill revolutionary change in different situations, these particular upsetting events have revealed an irreversible disaster. Thus, these dire circumstances, especially in such an abusive state, desperately need a radical adjustment in leadership as President Mubarak is fully aware of now that he has opted not to run for another term.

Posted by: sallyannzhou | February 4, 2011 12:22 PM
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The simple answer is no. President Mubarak has lost the trust of his people and they have finally stood up against his repressive regime. The most pragmatic action for him to take would be to consign the Presidency to a new progressive leader. With a voluntary exchange of power he can appease the protesters who refuse to allow him any more time in office and also show his supporters that he is not just giving up but endorsing a new leader for the good of the nation.

President Mubarak was a champion of stability and peace for the world in a region where hostile neighbors have been fighting for years. But his repressive regime has lost him the trust of his countrymen and this sole fact dictates that he concede his power. If done with grace his people will eventually forgive him and remember him as a great and powerful leader.

Posted by: NajiMcFarlane | February 3, 2011 10:10 AM
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The simple answer is no. President Mubarak has lost the trust of his people and they have finally stood up against his repressive regime. The most pragmatic action for him to take would be to consign the Presidency to a new progressive leader. With a voluntary exchange of power he can appease the protesters who refuse to allow him any more time in office and also show his supporters that he is not just giving up but endorsing a new leader for the good of the nation.

President Mubarak was a champion of stability and peace for the world in a region where hostile neighbors have been fighting for years. But his repressive regime has lost him the trust of his countrymen and this sole fact dictates that he concede his power. If done with grace his people will eventually forgive him and remember him as a great and powerful leader.

Posted by: NajiMcFarlane | February 3, 2011 10:05 AM
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