Establishment or Anti-Establishment?

February 23, 2016

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

Meet Deb


What matters most this election is that you vote, and isn’t it interesting how this election is a reflection of the changes going on in America and in the world at large?

It’s a pull and tug between “the establishment” and “anti-establishment”. It is about old ways versus new ways. It reflects the unprecedented level of change that has happened in our country – and in the world – over the last several years.

This has been happening in business for some time. Those who lead businesses have been dealing with this pull between old and proven methods, and new trends. It is the challenge of how to make business work in today’s connected, technical, and highly competitive market.

In this election, there are clear “establishment” candidates, clear “anti-establishment” candidates, and those in the middle of the two. It remains to be seen which thought leadership prevails, but in business, that middle ground appears to be the business leaders’ best target.

The Case for Establishment

In today’s business world, there are established principles and practices – and there is a rising tide of anti-establishment thinking. The fact is, in business, there is a place for both. In fact, there is a need for both.

The principles of honesty, integrity, and dedication provide a solid business platform. These are established principles that have stood the test of time. And in a world where a company’s reputation can rise or fall on the basis of a social media comment, these principles are more important than ever.

The Case for Anti-Establishment

When it comes to practices, a wise leader will take a look at current practices with the eye of an “anti-establishment” candidate. As leaders, we should ask ourselves, “Is this the best way to do this, or is there a better and more efficient way? Do we need to continue this practice or abort it in favor of a better methodology or approach? Do our customers still need what we are offering? Do they need what we are offering in a new form or format? What will they need in the future that they don’t even know they need today?”

The bottom-line question: “Is there a better way?”

This is the key question in an anti-establishment approach, and it is critical to ask it frequently.

The Best of Both

And then there are those of us who want the best of both worlds – that place where the best of “the establishment” meets the best of “anti-establishment”. It could very well be that the best and most profitable businesses are rooted in a strong middle ground – incorporating the best of both worlds.

What does this strong middle ground look like? It is…


In the old days (which in this case were not so long ago), the internet did not exist. Business connections were made via person to person contact – live in the community, via print advertising and direct email, and by phone calls. Today, connections are made on a massive scale and reach beyond communities and into the entire world. Connections are made faster and broader than ever before. With the right business idea and the right connections, multi-million dollar businesses can spring up virtually overnight.

Now the danger is that connections can also be broken faster and broader than ever before. So in this day of new connectivity, there is a greater need than ever to have a solid reputation and excellent customer service.


It used to be that if a CEO stepped out of his or her office and saw workers standing around talking, there would be a reprimand in order. Today, that CEO is likely to be one of those standing at an employee’s desk or in a group…collaborating. As leaders, we must realize that no one person knows everything – and that includes us. It is our job to identify experts in each area and bring those experts together. This may well include a seasoned veteran in the business and a brand new employee just out of technical school. This kind of collaboration brings together the best of both worlds.


The “established” way is that an employee will go to a company and work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week, do this for thirty or forty years, and then retire. But how many people do you know who work “normal” hours anymore? And how many have been working at the same company for decades? The fact is, even those who aspire to work at the same company for the long term find themselves sitting in the same chair but working for several different companies due to mergers and acquisitions.

The new “anti-establishment” workforce is accustomed to autonomy. They like to work on the move and on their own timeline. If you ask them their work hours, they will likely admit to being “plugged in” just about all the time.

In this area, there needs to be a balance…yes, companies need defined work times, and deadlines have to be met. But to attract good young talent and to keep established talent motivated, a wise leader will make allowance for flexibility within a certain framework. This ensures the work gets done AND also increases employee engagement.


In an era of cost-cutting, technology used to be the first to get the hatchet. Leaders are smarter now. They know that technology is just as much a part of the workforce as the people are. Like it or not, computers are the new “anti-establishment” core of operations.

Does this mean people no longer matter?

Absolutely not. Despite the globalization of the workforce and a recent ad promoting free humans with your purchase, people do still matter, and they matter a great deal. Studies have shown that customer service is one of the main determining factors in a consumer’s decision to do business with a company.

In this realm, yes, by all means use technology to automate processes and create efficiencies; but never, ever underestimate the value of your people.

It’s a tough, competitive race in business or in politics. But in the world of business, the most successful businesses will be those which very strategically blend the establishment with the anti-establishment, creating the best of both worlds.