[July 8, 2017] The greatest leaders of all time have spoken messages of hope and courage to their people; messages that are also clear, essential, and on message. The annual world leader G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany is being met with Welcome to Hell marches that threaten the economic fabric of participating industrial nations. But the anti-G20 leaders continue to struggle with a message that resonates.
Billed as a global movement against capitalism, the anti-G20 protestors are opposed to war, nuclear power, climate change, racism, and big business. The belief that capitalism is the root of evil appears to be the main motivating factor that draws protestors from around the Europe and elsewhere. Massive demonstrations that shutdown commerce and small-scale, indiscriminate violence that destroys property are their primary outlet to draw attention.
We who study leadership understand that a message that has any expectation of success must not be so broad and unclear as the one apparently adopted by the anti-G20 organizers. I say “apparently” because there is no one who can clearly articulate their grievances, ideologies, or means to achieving them.
“You have to work very hard behind the scenes, to make a message clear enough for a lot of people to understand.” – Stefano Gabbana, Italian fashion designer
Opportunity to study the protestors and their message(s) is a unique chance to look into an evolving coalition of loose but like-minded organizations. Weakness does not necessarily spring from an incoherent, inconsistent, or unclear message because those things can change. What is feared, by mainstream industrial nations, is that one day these folks will work very hard to get their act together and show how their message is one of hope and courage.
U.S. President Barack Obama was elected on a focused message of “hope and change.” It worked and he was twice elected. It is hard to say exactly what the message of the anti-G20 movement is advocating precisely and that may be why they have yet to get a larger foothold in most of the world.
Western mass media appears to enjoy a not dissimilar viewpoint that comes through in its coverage of the protests. However, the primary coverage shows mostly rioting, assaults, and vandalism; the kind that does not engender support from the average citizen. Someone from these groups should take the time out to get their message out clearly but they haven’t despite the right venue and media support.
The G20 Summit formally is only two days long and today is the last day. That may be another reason that the protests have not developed well. I tend to believe that it is a lack of message; what politicians like to call message discipline. The anti-G20 leadership doesn’t have it. The big question is “will they ever have a clear message?”
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