Brave New World and leadership

What an exciting time to read Huxley's "Brave New World".

The book originates from a post-H. Ford's world, where mass production and consumption are prioritized over individualism and self-actualization.

Today Huxley's novel can even better food for thought. In the rise of parkouring robots from Boston Dynamics or everything-knowing ChatGPT. Each piece of technology is only waiting to take our jobs and ultimately replace us - humans.
Actually, this is the next level of optimization which was presented in the novel. The twist is that we don't have to create thousands of perfect clones, as humans are no longer needed. I'm wondering what Huxley would say today. 😉

Anyway, I think "Brave New World" also has many interesting lessons for fresh leaders.

What's the default way of thinking after becoming a manager for the first time?

  • I need more people like me, so we can deliver my vision faster.
  • I've got a title and authority. They should follow my orders with very little context.
  • Everyone is motivated, and focused and needs to be utilized close to 100%. No time for reflection, celebration, pause, and breath. An employee is just a machine focused on tasks they got.
  • Disagreement and alternative opinions only slow us down from what matters.

These are only a few examples I face when working with fresh leaders. They keep asking - "How to make my people listen to me?", "Why they don't see what I see?", "How to make them stop disagreeing all the time?".

Knowing the answers to these questions would be a sign of living in "Brave New World" dystopia.
So what about treating humans as humans instead?

Sounds enigmatic?

  • Ask for an opinion
  • Allow disagreeing
  • Find time for celebration and reflection
  • Give more context rather than more orders
  • Use your title to help solve problems rather than forcing it

And for more practical examples, see my blog posts series on leading engineering teams in 2023:

Software Engineering Management in 2023
Tech industry’s tightenings implications for engineering leaders