I’m mulling over stories to tell at Social Business Edge in New York next month. The conference looks at how digital technologies and culture are shaping the future of organisations.

While we’re all so wrapped up in the futureshock of now, a wholesale rejection of models from the past is always tempting, but there’s so much to be learnt from history. I’m delving back a bit to come up with I hope some interesting stuff that’s still pertinent today.

Past heroes

Take the archetypal manager, for example. He’s had a bad press of late, what with his officiousness, book-keeping and target-setting, but strong organisational skills are essential for good, social business today. It’s just that they may be enacted in a different way.

I’ll be talking about General Patton’s inspirational leadership in World War II. And Vilfredo Pareto’s (yes he of the 80:20 rule) appalling mis-management skills. Following the suggestion of Lawrence O’Connor (Wisdom Architects), I’ll look at the life and work of Michel de Montaigne, the sixteenth century French aristocrat who’s been described on Amazon as “the first blogger”.

Cultural tropes

I’ll be asking why (tragi) comedies about the workplace such as The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin, The Office and Mad Men have to say about the type of leader-manager we aspire to (and ones we want to avoid at all costs).

And I’m going to see if I can have a chat with the fab Cambridge academic, Mary Beard, because she talks and writes so eloquently on why the classical world is still relevant now. I’d love to know who her current heroes are.

Want some more female leaders? See my Ada Lovelace Day heroes

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Privacy Preference Center