The pyramids, despite the popular misconception to the contrary, were not built by slaves but by highly skilled craftsmen including masons, carpenters, plasterers and painters.
Egyptians believed in the pursuit of excellence and were very proud of the quality of their work.
Again in contrast to the images depicted by Hollywood filmmakers over the years, a slave system did not exist in Egypt. A form of national service prevailed throughout the kingdom and it was viewed as an honour to work on behalf of the Pharaoh.
In matters of Egyptian law, women and men enjoyed an equal status. They were allowed to own or rent property, conduct a business, divorce and remarry.
They could also reign as Pharaoh, as Cleopatra did before Egypt came under the control of Imperial Rome. It’s worth noting that the women of Egypt played as important role as the men in supporting the Pharaoh’s ‘Vision’.
Throughout the kingdom, tens of thousands of people played a personal part in the construction of the Pharaoh’s Pyramid.
What motivated them to sign-up to the great journey and what lessons can modern-day leaders learn from the past?
It is widely recognised that purpose and a sense of belonging are important to each and everyone in any organisation. They make the difference between people merely going through the motions or giving their all.
With everybody feeling a connection to a great journey, morale improves, productivity increases, efficiency improves, retention rates remain high. Engagement levels increase.
People have more fun at work and that’s not a bad thing.
Great journeys start of with purpose and very quickly develop a sense of belonging which contributes towards the creation of an early critical mass of followers and advocates committed to the overall cause.
Galvanising support towards the journey is achieved by focusing on what is called the ‘size of the opportunity’ that exists for every individual connected with the organisation.
The Pharaohs recognised very quickly the importance of ‘opportunity’, particularly at the start of their journey and spent a considerable amount of time understanding the needs of their people and identifying what we call the people ‘imperatives’ – the reasons why anyone should embark on the journey.
To get people on board the Pharaoh and his high officials would have to answer the most important question asked of their subjects – ‘What’s in it for me?’
The response would give them the insight required to help them inspire others to sign-up to the pyramid-building journey.
Many of the themes included in the answers to the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question in ancient Egypt are similar to the responses from individuals working in organisations today.
Focusing on opportunity by developing the commercial and personal imperatives linked to the organisation’s journey is an important early task for the leadership team.
As well as highlighting the main benefits of signing up to the journey, their identification will assists leaders in attracting and recruiting talent as well as removing any cynicism people may have about the future of the organisation.
Commercial imperatives include survival, new markets, growth potential, and status. Personal imperatives include a sense of adventure, personal growth, fulfilment, pride and being part of a special cause.
Getting off to a successful start on the journey can be achieved when leaders ‘think like a Pharaoh’ and ask the question ‘what’s in it for me?’.
The response to the question and the action taken will reflect their level of future succes.
Best wishes on your journey, wherever it may take you.