First Mubarak, Is Your CEO Next?

Image: Bob RosnerIn just eighteen days, Egypt went from being a pillar of the Middle East to being the poster child for the demise of out-of-touch dictators.
Rather than focusing on the geopolitical lessons, of which there are many, I’d rather take it all back to the workplace. Could your CEO be the next out of touch dictator to fall?
I hear what you’re thinking, Come on Rosner, gimme a break. My CEO has control of the board of directors, he’s been around forever and people are loathe to do anything but violently agree with him in meetings. There is zero-chance that his reign of errors could ever end.
To this I’d like to point out one simple fact. Mubarak had all that, and $1.3 billion dollars in new military hardware year-in and year-out courtesy of your tax dollars. Until he learned that his power base, the military, felt that the safer road was to send a strong message to the people in the streets that these arms would not be used against them. Then it all came crumbing down. Quickly.
Autocratic rule, exiling creativity and decision-making based on a toxic combination of ego and greed. Sound familiar?
Tahrir Square probably won’t happen in the courtyard of your corporate headquarters with a throng of people chanting for your leaders to leave. But there are places in your company where people already tell the truth without looking around to see who might hear.
If your company is like most, there is an underground economy where people act first and ask for permission later. Where most of the innovation happens. But its not happening in the “C” level suites. It’s often taking place in lower levels where mid-level managers nurture and protect risk takers.
How do you find this more fun group of people to work with? Look for people who aren’t fighting the last war, but who are fighting the next one. They’re out there. But it’s not something that appears on a business card or organizational chart.
No this is more of a secret society of innovators. You don’t have to learn a secret handshake, you just need to do some digging on your company’s most recent big innovations. Chances are that you’ll find that there is the “official” story and then real way that things came down. you want to get close to the people who are the real innovators.
Revolution might not happen immediately, but revolutionary activities could start right away. But it’s going to take some guts to network with your company’s trouble makers and risk takers.
The actual pyramids are now free. Who knows, you might find that your pyramid, a.k.a. the corporate hierarchy, might not be as rock solid as you thought. Just sayin’…
About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.