In his blog article “The four horsemen of mediocrity”, marketing guru Seth Godin states that the “The industrial age brought compliance and compliance brought fear and fear brought us mediocrity”

I would say almost the opposite: Fear brought us compliance and compliance brought us the industrial age and the industrial age brought us mediocrity.

The distinction is that the origin is fear. The next sentence in Seth’s post seems to indicate that he could agree with me on this one. Indeed, he goes on about the opportunity that fear brings us to improve things, implying that overcoming fear is the key to changing everything.

Transforming fear is no easy matter. It is usually tackled by people with sufficient resources to experiment in and with their lives. Transforming fear at the individual level is challenging, but the real breakthrough is the collective. When we are many, we are stronger. When we are stronger, we are less fearful.

The opportunity that the information age is giving us is the understanding that WE ARE MANY, and therefore that WE ARE STRONG. Social networks, blogs, tweeter, facebook, comments, posts, likes, retweets are all measures of our collective agreement. With this agreement comes confidence and with confidence comes higher expectations: We expect our points of views, opinions, interests (personal or collective), to be heard and acted upon!

 Guillaume Bouchard, the CEO of iProspect Canada, understands this trend very well. Since 2004, he has been telling his clients about content, authenticity and value. This has made him the leader of one of the most recognized web communication and marketing companies today.

“Quand l’exceptionnel devient la norme !”Guillaume Bouchard (“When the outstanding becomes the norm”)

Once upon a time, web geniuses were hired by site owners to cheat Google’s algorithms and to insure that his site was at the top of the search engines results. They believed that this would be sufficient for the gullible buyer in webland to land on his site and buy his product. But clients were simply annoyed. Maybe reluctantly buying on a site that they didn’t approve. They felt bullied, and justifiably so!

This results in loss of consumer trust.

Google realized that this was not what they wanted. They wanted to be reliable for providing the best possible information for the user.

They have actively worked on their algorithm and have significantly improved it. It is increasing difficult to cheat Google by using classical key words, backlinks, or other grey hat methods so popular 4 or 5 years ago. Guillaume Bouchard has said in a recent talk that the Google search engine is capable of recognizing genuine content of value to the web user. The written content, videos and images are selected and ranked according to their value to the person browsing the web, and not according to the wishes of the owner of the site.

This is because Google cares about trust. They want us to trust them. They realize that if we trust them, not only we use their search engine as information seekers, but we will go out of our way as site owners to insure that they recognize for the value we wish to present to the public.

Hence, here we have it. The trend is to move away from a fear-based way of living and doing business to a trust-based system. This is slowly being imposed

“The Scream” popular painting by artist Edvard Munch

The fear-based system favors the bully and the people with a bit of power or influence. Trust-based system favor the meek or naïve who does not believe he has the strength to compete with the bully. Indeed, in such a society, a bully will very fall out of trust and excluded or force to change through social pressure.

In essence, a new type of discussion between leaders and followers is immerging where followers, by the mere knowledge that others feels or think as they do will confront leaders to get them (the leaders) to take care of them (the followers).

The challenge for leaders is to find the way to do this. To search for the new paradigm which will free the people. To reduce common fear and go towards common trust. By being honest, helpful, genuine and transparent in their intensions, managers will capitalize on this opportunity. There is a lot to be done here. Posts to write, conferences to give, catchphrases to communicate to get the ball rolling even faster for the benefit of mankind. Failing to do so means todays bully leaders will not be tomorrow helping leaders.