Patriots And Citizens

April 14, 2010

In his brilliant book entitled “Post-Capitalist Society,’ Peter Drucker discussed the difference between patriotism and citizenship:

Patriotism is the willingness to die for one’s country…. People – and especially working people – are still willing to die for their country, even in the least popular of wars. But patriotism alone is not enough. There has to be citizenship as well. Citizenship is the willingness to contribute to one’s country. It means the willingness to live – rather than die – for one’s country. (p.171)

Organizational life also produces patriotic and citizenship behavior among employees and managers.

I would not want to work for an organization that did not inspire patriotism from its employees. I don’t mind being called upon to make an extreme sacrifice, but that call should be rare and not routine.

I want to be defined by my citizenship, not my patriotism. I want to be striving to thrive, not fighting to survive.

It’s difficult to focus on citizenship when your organizational life is on the line daily. An organization void of citizens has no heart, no soul. Patriotism may facilitate short term survival, but only citizenship ensures consistent growth and health. Citizens are the engine of corporate vitality and competitiveness.

Does your leadership require and reward patriotism, employees willing to sacrifice for the organization? Or does your leadership encourage citizenship, employees willing to contribute to the organization and their fellow citizens at work?

As a follower, I hope you recognize that even if you don’t feel inspired by your leaders to be a citizen, it is your responsibility to behave as one anyway. Excuses are irrelevant.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Bret, I think you’re right on the money here. Anybody can practice blind patriotism and even use smoke and mirrors to feign proper ideological compliance. But to practice citizenship takes a whole lot more.

    My question is: Can we apply this to digital citizenship? And if so, how? Respectfully, Bruce

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Bruce. I do like the concept of digital citizenship. Got if from the book Inbound Marketing by Halligan and Shah. But the concept is a little different than the one I use here. But your point about being able to feign citizenship applies. There are a lot of folk try to sell businesses on social media marketing solutions- solutions that they don’t practice themselves. Real digital citizens know the waters because they swim in them every day. Tourists stand on the shore and take pretty pictures to post to their Facebook page. Thanks! Bret

  2. Heh, heh. Standing on the shore and taking pretty pictures to post on Facebook. Nicely put and makes good sense to me. I really like that term “digital citizenship” (first heard it from you, actually). It’s the digital citizens that are leading the way into the new era, but many non-citizens want to cash in without participating (Nevada folks probably get that part as well as anybody, since you’ve seen so many outsiders try to come in and profit from your gambling laws without giving back to the local communities). Thanks Bret!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Concur, Bruce. Thanks for contributing your thoughts! Bret

  3. Paul Kiser says:

    Dr. Bret, you are wrong…

    not really, I just wanted to try out the statement because I never get to say it to you.

    Again you’ve hit upon an important point. Employers (and politicians) expect blind loyalty and that makes an organization weak. Blind loyalty makes life easier for those in control, but fails to keep an organization ‘situationally aware’. Patriotism is a weapon that is used to manipulate people under the disguise that we’re-all-in-this-together, when the reality is it is just being used to invoke blind loyalty.

    Okay, I’ll say it…once again, you’re right. Great points!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    ha! If I’m wrong, then I blame Drucker 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Paul Bret