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What can companies today learn from the ancient Greeks?

What can companies today learn from the ancient Greeks?Paul Arnesen
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December 29, 2020
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What have the Greeks to do with remote work or how to run your business?

Whether you work remotely or not, the way your business is run, or the way the country of your company operates the political system, there is a lot to learn from the Greeks, especially the ancient Greeks.  

Considering Greece's economic hardships in the last decade, it is not fair to forget that Greece actually has a long history, a history of leadership and democracy.

In ancient Greece in Athens, some 2500 years ago, democracy was born.

What did that mean? For the ordinary Athenian it meant a life they could help shape, and for the leaders the incentive they needed to serve its people. A system not imposed, but invented by the people to serve as a fair method of living a fruitful and fulfilling life. In its purest form, this was democracy how it should be even though only 30,000 to 60,000 of 400,000 were regarded as citizens (slaves, teenagers, and women were not regarded as citizens). Every aspect of the citizens of Athens's life was discussed or voted on. Few if any decision was made over their head, the knowledge possessed by the people was vital and served as an asset for the people of Athens. The citizens acted as unions, workers, leaders in mutual respect. The goal was a peaceful life aligned with their values, the voice of many was more important than the voice of few. In terms of employment relations (if we disregard their views on women) it sounds like utopia.

It is not far fetching to consider that the ideas of ancient Athens should serve as an inspiration for many of today's organizations, many still stuck in the industrial age where leadership teams or individuals make final decisions affecting many. Stripping employees of rights in the pursuit of ever harder to find profits. That we have moved into the information age has surpassed even the most updated leaders in the industry. Knowledge is the ruler know, the knowledge of many, the employees.

Imagine a nation where the leader makes every decision, you are not allowed to protest or vote on decisions. Your rights are taken away and protection is low. Remind you of anywhere? I am not saying that some organizations today resemble North Korea, but sadly many leaders today do not understand the power of democracy. If workers are seen as citizens with the right to voice their concerns when needed, the possibility to shape the rules and methods they work by and have similar goals as the leaders, things could and would be different. Citizens in nations and cities will be concerned with how they're treated by their governing leaders, and even when the leaders that they did not vote for are elected they still have their rights to protest and voice their meanings.

It is a democracy that is the key to regaining confidence in many of today's nations. Lack of regulation is one aspect, but the fact that countries talk big about themselves as being democratic is just another way of controlling its citizens. Would you vote for another war, or would you like to see tougher regulations on the financial industry?

Some nation's views on democracy are actually more like an oligarchy where the wealthy rule. In a true democracy, such as ancient Athens your voice as a citizen would be heard. It is therefore especially sad to see the decline of many businesses and nations today and especially when you consider that these bright ideas were invented 2500 years ago.

Take the next step as a business owner, and make your workplace more democratic. It will give higher motivation, better productivity, and eventually higher profits. If you are successful the leaders of your nation might look at how they lead and follow your example.

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