Managing A New Power Shift

Leadership in a World Where Power is Top Down AND Bottom Up.

Posted Sep 15, 2012

In a mobile internet world, power changes.  Power flows along with communication: top down AND bottom up.

Below is a tragic example of how this works:

Basseley Nakoula, age 55, is a convinced felon living in California.  He was convinced of bank fraud and sentenced to 21 months in prison plus must pay $790,000.  As part of his probation he was not to use the Internet without the approval of authorities.   He was not to use false identities.

Mr. Nakoula assumed the name Sam Bacile and created an anti-Islamic movie.  He then distributed this film on the Internet.

Once the film went on the Internet, there were demonstrates in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Gaza, Great Britain, India, Iran, Iraq,  Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, West Bank, and Yemen.

Thus far, four Americans and three citizens of Middle East countries have died.

Power moves from the bottom up!

People in the Middle East want to know why did the Government permit Mr. Nakoula’s film to get on the Internet---it would never have happened in their country.

They will argue that Mr. Nakoula was violating his probation by taking on an assumed name and going on the Internet without permission. Why didn’t the U.S. know and stop him?  Perhaps the U.S. Government knew and didn’t care?  After all, he was violating U.S. law.


This tragedy illustrates the uncontrollable nature of communications and of power.

In our consulting practice we see this come into play when top management actually deludes itself into thinking power continues to flow from the top down.

For example, an associate at a CPA firm is told she will not make partner and she ought to quietly look for professional opportunities outside the firm.  She perceives she was never listened to by her direct supervisor and was treated with disrespect.

Will she go quietly?

Yes she will.

But the key thing is what happens after she leaves and gets resettled.

She is a one person communications agency who knows how to use,, and  She will warn her friends and her friends will warn their friends.

This CPA firm will move from having the ability to hire the most desired talent to being known in its community as the firm of Last Resort: go to work there if the better firms can't or won't hire you.

In a world where power now flows top down AND bottom up, design your selection and termination programs to turn former employees and rejected candidates into valuable future allies.


McKinsey & Company "gets it."

They do not pay for outplacement services from the HR budget.  It gets paid from the marketing budget.

McKinsey doesn't speak about "former employees" but they do speak about "alumni" and have a strong alumni development program.  They keep in touch with alumni.

Power shifts from top down to top down AND bottom up.