This has been an incredible week to observe leadership in action (and in inaction !). It’s hard to know where to begin. Many people make the mistake of thinking that leadership is some activity reserved for only those in lofty positions. Not true. Everyone of us needs to lead (even if it just ourselves) and moreover has the ability to lead.
Most days our exposure to leadership comes in the corporate environment so that’s where I will begin. I witnessed some powerful leadership this week which provided both inspiration for the future and a reference point for some of the appallingly bad leadership I have experienced.
Leadership has to be about: intellectual rigour, a compelling narrative, an empathy with those you are leading, an insight into the challenges ahead, a strong sense of conviction, unwavering standards and lastly a likeability (not in a ‘drinks at the bar sense’ although sometimes that can help !) borne out of respect by those who you are leading.
This weekend we commemorate the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings – a point of supreme leadership and something nobody should forget. Just a shame it is being hosted by an anti-leader, President Sarkozy, who bizarrely described D-Day as an American-Franco affair ? True leaders don’t have to rewrite history – even when they are French. Leadership in this case needs to be much more than shoe-lifts, a Dior suit and a constant quest to gatecrash global parties.
And that brings me to the end of this week : Westminster, a few short miles from where I am writing this. As a Scot it is a source of particular shame that Gordon Brown continues to occupy (and with every day that goes past it seems more like an ‘occupation’) No 10 Downing Street.
I will temper my remarks because sometimes I do genuinely believe that Gordon Brown is becoming mentally unstable however this farce is almost without equal. A Cabinet Reshuffle where the Cabinet in effect reshuffle themselves – making a mockery of the office of Prime Minister has simply eroded the last vestiges of power that he had. It’s like watching a cat play with a live mouse.
The truth is the man is despised by his own party. A decade of ‘clunking fist’ behaviour as Chancellor has left many scores to be settled. Now he’s left with no other option than to fill his Cabinet with unelected Peers (happy for a couple but anymore than that is just downright feudal), mediocre retreads (Tessa Jowell, Peter Hain – I mean REALLY !) and now we have a pantomime business leader (Sir Alan Sugar) as a new Business Adviser who currently hosts the UK version of The Apprentice – for my US friends this would be the equivalent of President Obama appointing Donald Trump to his Cabinet.
The only comfort is that this cannot go on. In fact I think we can start to clock Brown’s continued tenure with an egg-timer. The European results will be in tomorrow night and the daggers will be sharpened once again.
A political knifing – now that’s leadership !