Can We Move Beyond Leadership Pathology?. Leadership varies

We mostly hope politics will just pass us by.  It’s clearly dishonest and very dull.  My own . MP is a total shit and not much better than the alternatives.  The Tories we didn’t elect in are of the old fashioned sort, waiting for jobs in banks and boardrooms.  The Liberals sold us out and Labour went new and blue.  The system is hopeless, but it’s probably been better to be British than be born elsewhere.  I’d have been Norwegian or Swedish, given the choice.  In the last 20 years our kids have got out of hand and our rich reverted to thieving,  My guess on the malaise is management, the professions and bureaucracy, along with the turn away from manufacturing.  We know a lot more on this than is in common circulation.  Associated with the malaise is banksterism, now a form of organised crime and profoundly anti-democratic.  The novel describing this best is still Catch 22.  

So what is it we are waiting for?  What does this government hope will happen?  My guess is they hope the banks will be able to cover their tracks, our currency will devalue as they pump more of our money to the banks, the Chinese will let their money revalue and let their middle class have more money to spend.  This will lead to a decline in the competitiveness in Chinese manufacturing and ‘bring factories back to Britain’.  There are signs in the Chinese economy (inflation, rising costs).  The idea is that ‘growth’ will come along and help make debt disappear – in the meantime we just scrape along, trusting to the hustlers in charge.  Most of us can’t complain because we never bothered to know enough to know of any alternatives.  We essentially free-ride in democracy – an old problem which led to slaves whipping people into meetings of the Athenian version, the whips coated to leave a purple dye of shame.

My own view is that we are terrorised by work.  What we need is wealth creation and distribution and for this to be organised organically with as little politics as possible.  There is, of course, work that needs doing and we have to be able to ensue this gets done and that there is fair and encouraging reward.  How this obvious condition leads to economics and the kinds of government seen in history around the world is better described as a pathology of violence

My guess is the key pathology is unbridled leadership.  This is a gift to the megalomaniac, psychopath, bully and harridan – yet anyone who has tried to organise without leadership knows it has a role to play.  Without force of authority one is herding cats.  Sometimes the only control needed is that over pay – though at the extreme this is control over whether people eat or not.  The means of power are often ‘hidden’ in what is ready-to-hand or has become mundane.  This leads to both facile and convoluted theories of leadership.  I have no doubt the issues are complex, but I doubt many can learn from much that is complex in the social – we have mostly learned to be too selfish to do that.  This is probably why so many of our leaders are psychopaths (Hitler) or narcissists (Blair).

In the rush to improve leadership we end up with business school teaching or the dire snake oil ‘colleges’ of the explicitly commercial sector.  This form of education is little more than manners training for ‘nobles’.  Evaluation of this muck is often little more than that of participants’ limited feelings recorded on ‘happy sheets’.  This is common in education despite now ancient research, oft repeated, that they are worse than useless.  The essential problem is that real evaluation is very expensive and would include whether this training is generally beneficial in organisations and the community in general.  My view after 20 years is that it is worth stopping and probably dangerous to our health.

Leadership is bloated – ‘leaders’ have been paying themselves more and more, largely on the basis of productivity gains by others and money the rest of us borrowed.  The tricks have been through PR and accounting – a silent class war.  The evidence in Western economics is glaring.  When they talk of risk taking, just look at who has been losing.  It is never them – they have ways of unloading losses and changing law to prevent criminal prosecution.

My contention is that a new leadership class has been created, much as, say, the Normans colonised Saxon England.  It is there to rule and is the beginning of the road to serfdom.  We are about to ‘discover’ the extent of the theft they have perpetrated.  A police enquiry in terms of the Theft Act would be the first act of evaluation.  Even the Anericans are shying away from this and they have less politically domesticated cops than us.

Our society has become poorer just as our abilities to build, in medicine and technologies of all kinds should have made it better.  I can think of no rational reason for this and some group has clearly led us to the point and is the only one in clover.  It’s a bit like a big jewelry heist – who do you suspect – the guys cleaning drains or the ones wearing large rings and lots of bling?  Or more likely the ones just back from Amsterdam with a big bag of cash?

It seems to me that a proper examination of leadership would also lead us to establish effective mechanisms to prevent its abuse.  I think we would find they have taken all our defences away.  This would lead me, as a strategic teacher and researcher, towards a new politics being more important, in the first place, to building a new leadership, than any so-called skill training.  We have generally done much better in finding decent people to lead our cops and Armed Services tactically, than in getting the right kind of people into banking and boardrooms – though this is under threat through ‘Acpoisation’ and the like.

I’ve seen utterly crap leadership abroad in places run by kleptocracies, under the Soviets and the Middle and Far Easts.  The ease with which leaders there would run to cruelty beats most stories about the rum, bum and sodomy Navy times.  What made us different was the treatment of our own further down the food chain, and our ‘non-commissioned officers’ respect for and care of their own.  The treatment of everyone by everyone can collapse and I suspect this is happening here.

One can show respect for a leader because one has to, and leaders can get this response through terror or by doing a decent job that earns actual respect.  It’s more complex than this, because people can be idiots, swayed by charm or preferential treatment.  There is little evidence our current leaders have more talent than most in our top half and plenty that indicates this is very unlikely.

1.  Most people wouldn’t recognise good leadership as long as they live.  They are easily duped by psychopaths, bought off with charm or a bag of sweets, a claque, a lucky result and so on.  The Germans, then the most scientific, cultured and educated people in the world, voted Nazi in droves – as many as 69% in Bavaria.

2  Needed leadership varies a lot.  The chief inspector who tried to make me take the bullets out of my gun at an airport, before going on a plane to disarm a potentially armed drunk (with him cowering outside) was a clown there, but not a bad Divisional bean-counter.

3.  You lead in terms of the individual, group, task and business.

4. You should develop others so the job works if you ain’t there – and you should remember to let this happen when you are.

5. Forget dross like appraisal and any bonuses that aren’t shared – extra work is OT – slackers should be told what you think of them  and dumped somewhere else, unless there is a genuine training solution.

6. Don’t do training on stuff like diversity and other derisory stuff.  Make it plain racism won’t wash and explain the discipline system.  Do consider open discussion instead.

7. Don’t do Gold, Silver and Bronze – get your people drilled to get on with the job at the right time on their own.  There should be nothing you could add.

8.  Don’t do PR and get rid of that culture – you and your senior people can do what’s needed better – otherwise resign.

9.  Don’t do personnel or HRM and ban any such department.  Hire some people people and let them work locally under express instructions not to be a department.  If you need a lot of this resign – you ain’t leading or managing.

10. Get stuff off paper where you can.

11. Open your organisation to what its customers want.  Remember that some people are not customers — as criminals to police forces.

12.  Encourage decency, tolerance and respect for human rights – all of which has nothing to do with any ACT.  Get the moral thing done and take the consequences.  Make sure this is something everyone will try to do.

13.  Don’t use any glib managemo-babble and sack anyone who pays for any.

14.  On discovering the above undoable, we might discover what leadership has become.


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