Friday, 15 March 2013

Leadership and Pirates

The novels "Any Means to an End" and "Protective Craft" describe the life of a ship's master from mid-1679 to late 1680.  He is in absolute command and only during the second book does he show a semblance of allegiance to the naval authorities.  He is a leader whom his men follow.
Over this past year especially I have attended several meetings designed to lay out what leadership is and contrast that with managerial offices.  There are many instances where people are labelled "captains of industry" and lauded for their roles of leadership.  There are many who would, in my opinion, fit that description, but they are few compared to the total given that description in the press and other media.
My reasons are this.  The boss of a utility company is really the manager appointed by the state.  Heads of banks usually fit the same bill, where the banks and institutions have a long history and the appointments are made.  In those situations, the company has probably grown as much as it can and is in a monopoly position or is part of a cartel of interests that cannot really fail.
The real "captains" of industry build up from scratch and face failure on a daily basis at the beginning or they take over a company in serious decline and turn it around.
I believe those who think leadership can be taught, should turn their ideas into an algorithm and program a robot to be a leader, and see if that works!
How can one learn to inspire?  Neville Chamberlain couldn't learn to inspire! Managers with vested interests will rarely see true leadership or will seek to suppress the people would who surpass them.  Churchill was willing to think bold thoughts and take chances.  Radical ideas do threaten the status quo but that doesn't mean they should be suppressed or excluded.  Leaders are born, not made.  The view about learning to become a leader, should be modified.  Managers should learn to recognise and promote the leaders from within.  Delegation of the leadership roles is part of this process, allowing the true leaders to shine.
But who gets to be a leader these days?  In Europe it seems to be appointed, unelected beaurocrats.  Often they have been de-selected in their home countries. Now we find them trying to dip into the savings accounts of the elderly, the children and the poor.  Their poor historical regulation and management of financial institutions has lead to this attempted robbery. Bank accounts already taxed, full of currency losing value, in an inflationary climate are to be taxed again. The governments and banks were complicit in the financial collapse.  The time for fining banks and financial companies has passed.  All they do is get the government to use the tax-payers money to bail them out.  If fined, they charge the customer (tax-payer) more.  Its time for criminal responsibility and prison sentences instead of fines.
The pirates on the sea today are small beer compared to those who wear suits in the financial districts.  There are leaders around today, but not much morale leadership.

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