When historians finally gain some perspective on the last decade, they will in all likelihood label it the 'No Trust' decade. The Y2K hype that all computers and equipment would fail at the stroke of midnight when the new millenium was ushered in, turned out to be totally overblown. Was this the first scam of a new decade?
In 2000 the Internet bubble burst and the cyberspace 'goldrush' came to a halt. Companies like Nortel Networks thought to be solid stock, simply saw their value drain away in a matter of months and the public was left wondering what happened?
As the decade gathered speed, public trust was further undermined when government, blue chip companies and even friends betrayed society and their local community. We saw George Bush start a war that was justifed on false grounds. USA government agencies failed the residents of New Orleans when hurricane Katrina struck and the state of California could not stop the devestation caused by countless brush fires.
Public distrust in big business was sparked by the mismanagement of Enron. Not only did senior managers swindle their shareholders, but also employee's and showed that greed had spread like a cancer throughout the corporate world. The posterboy for greed turned out to be Bernie Maddoff, who not only undermined the integrity of all financial advisers, but led people to question if they could even trust their closest friend?
The financial crisis of 2008 shattered the illusion that accumulated wealth is safe, that governments act responsibly and that special interest groups are accountable. At the close of 2009, the little guy is left to foot the bill for a decade marked by greed and lack of accountability. Rightfully we can ask "Who will show the way in the next decade?"
The painful truth is that that there is no single entity, no single leader, no single group capable of leading us in this complicated and interdependent world. The good news is that our increased ability to connect with others via the internet and latest digital technologies is both a blessing and a curse, and that this real time connectivity brings in to play a new model of leadership that offers us all hope.
The more connected we are, the more the contribution of each and every individual counts. While the last decade was characterised by the emergence of social media as a way for people to connect in fun ways, the new decade will see this media provide a powerful platform where individuals can contribute their unique talents and abilities to groups that will emerge in response to meeting a wide range of needs and challenges. These groups will provide co-operative leadership. Already such groups exist and carry tremendous legitimacy as we have seen with avaaz.org and its ability to impact global events.
Small business owners will no doubt find ways to collaborate and make their needs known at the local,provincial and national level. Make a choice to become involved. As individuals and small business owners we have the power to shape a prosperous and rewarding new decade. We are the leaders of the future!