Distance is dead. Global success stories and hubs of economic strength can emerge from anywhere in this new world. You can chat, shop and interact 24/7. Travel is as easy as a key-click and so is mass communication. The common thread in most businesses and relationships today is the mighty modem.
In a flat world, miles have little to do with the growing ease and speed of communications.
Our ability to work or interact together for business, social causes or pleasure does not require proximity of participants. Much can be accomplished on a computer, pager or phone from anywhere in the world. Remember those old AT&T commercials that asked rhetorically something like, "Imagine working from the beach? You will." The better answer today is, "I do. ... We all do." We tap our keyboards on planes, trains and automobiles; from vacation islands, Starbucks and parks. I have even seen someone working on a sidewalk in front of a house, using the unsuspecting homeowners' unsecured broadband service. People can work and earn a living from anywhere, and because of this, executives are becoming more demanding about where they live and achieving the lifestyles they desire. As employees expect more from the companies they work for, companies expect more from employees, and everyone expects more from every product, brand or company they interact with every day, there is a new, have-it-your-way model emerging. And why not? Companies capitalize on the work forces in regions distant from their "home" bases to best provide products and services to customers; why can't leadership follow this model as well?
With all this globalization, telecommuting, computer connecting and general "flatness" of the world that exists today, companies still look to hire executives to work in the office. We search for the best people from all around the world-flatness lets us accomplish this-but then we move them in with us. If a call center can answer a customer question from India, why can't a new CEO tackle an issue from wherever he or she wants to be? Don't you want your management happy? I can count five executives off the top of my head who live in one country or city during the week and get on a plane every Friday to fly to another country or city to go "home." And they all complain.
It's time to open up to the executives of the future. The biggest constraint on business growth is qualified management teams. This is less because those people don't exist and more due to the way we, as management, recruit and hire. If you are open to removing boundaries of location, the world becomes your flat oyster. Here's my idea of a new great leader:
A consummate networker: Technologically savvy and connected.
Hates meetings: Communicates simply, efficiently and effectively through multiple communications platforms.
Leads by example: Inspires respect, loyalty and "love."
Expert in outsourcing: Sees the company as an ever-expanding network that reaches "out" to the world for the best it has to offer.
Gets good ideas from everywhere: Is not insulated within a particular industry or category.
Believes "distance" is an emotional, not a physical, barrier: Wants emotionally driven, human-to-human connections with working teams and management.
Wants to live a quality life: Will never, ever say "my wife/husband will kill me if I get on another plane this week." Lives where happiest. Able to create a high-quality environment from which to productively function.
An entrepreneurial mind-set: Believes innovation and change are a company's most valuable assets.
Mission-critical focus: Can rally around a vision, mission, job or task to get it done ... right.
Fun: Some may call this a "soft skill," but, without it, the hard stuff gets even harder.
Only the qualified need apply.