Like millions of others globally, I watched with fascination, the sensational and striking spectacle of the ceremony, significant symbolism, spectacular artifacts, and rituals at the recent King of England’s majestic coronation. At the same time, I allowed my mind to wander and wondered how this visually stunning and unrivaled British ceremony would impact the nations and realms’ culture and leadership, today and in the future, wondering if, indeed, it is at a cultural tipping point.
Where it is believed, by some, that the coronation made “two statements of great importance for today’s world about the place of religion in public life and the importance and meaning of the nation”. Acknowledging that such a monumental and marvellous event is indicative of a cultural tipping point, not only for the people it embraces but also for organisations, nations, and realms as a whole, to search for what is meaningful and valued by its people.
Making the connection
My mind wandered and made some obvious connections between the core and common elements that embody both organisational, and national cultural realms – the values, beliefs, assumptions, and mindsets that drive key behaviours and deliver the common implicit messages. As well as the disciplined systems and processes that deliver the results, the rituals that are enacted, and finally, the artifacts whose symbols represent what the culture values.
Maintaining relevance and engagement
Like the monarchy, what do organisations need to do to maintain relevance and engagement to thrive in unstable and uncertain times, especially when their existence and legacies are being questioned and evaluated by the people they serve?
At a pivotal time when new sets of global, societal, and organisational demands are being made, largely as a result of the fourth industrial revolution, encompassing the convergence of exponential technologies impacting all of us globally. At the same time, we are all still affected by the consequences of the global pandemic-induced lockdowns, impacting every fabric of our social and civic structures in our world today.
A case study for leveraging cultural tipping points differently
The coronation of King Charles III provides us with a great case study of an outstanding and remarkable display of English cultural attributes. This enables us to ask some serious questions about how national and organisational cultures and leadership in times of exponential change, like today, might thrive with uncertainty and co-create solutions to some of the most complex global challenges, by leveraging the range of cultural tipping points differently.
A range of cultural tipping points
We are in effect, experiencing globally a range of cultural tipping points:
- At the macro level, according to a recent article here in Australia, where King Charles still resides as our head of state, the local SMH states that this realm is in a state of flux:
“The King is head of state in 15 countries. More than half of the so-called “realm states” are in the Caribbean and most of them are bailing out. Barbados two years ago, Jamaica probably next year. Belize, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are planning their exit as well”.
- At the micro level, according to Mc Kinsey & Co, in a recent article “New Leadership for a new era of thriving organisations” stated that organisations and leadership are also in a state of flux:
“Organizations such as Allianz, Haier, Microsoft, and Nucor are transforming their industries with a new organizational approach that seeks to be open, fluid, and adaptable; unleashes the collective energy, passion, and capabilities of its people; reimagines strategy; and focuses on delivering greater value to all stakeholders”.
“Their cultures support a more open, collaborative, and emergent way of working. And the shift to this new kind of model changes the way businesspeople must lead”.
Going back to culture and leadership fundamentals
Because culture and leadership are, according to Edgar H. Schein “two sides of the same coin and cannot understand one without the other” we have to be in charge and focussed to intentionally, constructively, and creatively manage their interdependence. He also states that culture matters because it is a “powerful, tacit and often unconscious set of forces that determine both our individual and collective behaviours, ways of perceiving, thought patterns, and values”.
If we do not intentionally and strategically take charge, focus, and leverage these forces, we will simply always be at the effect of them, as they take us down the path of least resistance, remain implicit, and will not deliver the results we want and need in a disruptive world.
Making the coronation links
My mind wandered and considered what might be the range of core values at play on the weekend and landed on a range of seldom-used words including – power, sovereignty, continuity, divinity, tradition, wealth, accession, diversity, responsibility, pride, and loyalty, supported by the key values of Christianity and a belief in divine right and the crucial role of righteousness.
The ceremony was jam-packed full of amazing seldom-seen rituals, including public prayer, polite bows, serious vows, anointment, and elaborate crowning, to name just a few.
The variety and assortment of symbols were mesmerising, including priceless golden carriages, bejewelled coronation swords, golden scepters, the solo glove and silver spoon, beautifully crafted and jewelled orbs and elaborate crowns. Plus a selection of artifacts included religious items and a variety of civic and military seriously gold braided red, black and white regalia.
Delivered by a set of carefully planned processes and an orchestrated set of scheduled events, including flybys, a range of powerful military processions and parades, serious police presence and awesome security all enacted with mighty precision.
Sharing the key messages
My mind then wandered and considered what might be the key messages being communicated by this incredible series of marvellous events, and wondered how relevant and engaging they might be to people today:
- A coronation signals the conferment of God’s grace upon a ruler,
- A coronation appoints the king as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England,
- A coronation is a joyous and celebratory event.
Back to the SMH “The people got what they wanted. The cheers in the Mall, the boulevard built for the adoration of royalty, were real, even if the masses were down on those for the Queen’s Jubilee.”
Impacting the future
It remains to be seen if this powerful, majestic, memorable, and significant once-in-a-lifetime ceremonial event will ultimately help unify or divide the English realm. Which it seems, is facing its own range of unique challenges and a controversial cultural tipping point, ultimately and seriously impacting its future viability.
Back to the SMH “But Charles’s big show might be his last great day. The last dance of a wheeling, brilliant circus that has entertained and beguiled but which soon enough, in its distant realms, will stutter and shrink and reel no more.”
Why does this matter?
This matters today because we are individually, and collectively at a range of social, civic, and organisational cultural tipping points. Where we organisation and leaders are also dancing many of our “last dances”, and “stutter and shrink and reel nor more” because, according to some, we are not strategically focussed on leveraging the culture and leadership basics:
- Implicitly clarifying values that focus on delivering value that improves the quality of people’s lives that they appreciate and cherish and explicitly making them an active part of corporate life.
- Ensuring that leaders role model and enact behaviours that demonstrate the values in action, where people are accountable and rewarded by rigorous systems and supportive disciplined, and agile processes.
- Co-creating powerful sets of rituals, symbols, and artifacts, aligned to the values, that deliver the “new architectures” to create permission, safety, and trust that drive collaboration, experimentation, innovation, inclusion, and sustainability.
- Communicating engaging and inclusive messages that resonate creativity, respect, and appreciation for people, profit, and the planet.
Shifting the cultural tipping points
It’s time to transform leadership to transform organisations, in ways that are self-aware and inspiring, meaningful and purposeful, equitable and sustainable, with increasing speed, resilience, and efficiency to guide organisational cultures and leadership that:
- Helps people navigate and balance in-person and remote work, be mentally healthy and well, and make the way for both applied AI and human skills development.
- Develops new rules for attracting and retaining people, close the capability chasm and walk the talent tightropes to better equip, empower and harness people’s harness collective intelligence to make both the organisation and the world better places.
- Creates, invents, and innovates new ways of thinking, and acting that ultimately shift the range of cultural tipping points to meet new sets of global, societal, and organisational demands and challenges emerging in the 21st century, and lets go of what is no longer relevant to better serve humanity as a whole.