By Dean Orgill

Chairman of Mayo Wynne Baxter

www.mayowynnebaxter.co.uk • www.iod.com

Recent events have probably caused many of us to ponder on leadership, what it is, who has it, and perhaps what currently seems to be lacking at a national level. My feelings on this are instinctive, I accept, so I thought that before writing I would look into the topic and seek some guidance from those with greater experience and wisdom on the subject than I could hope to claim.

If, as Henry Kissinger is reported as saying, “the task of a leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been” then our current crop of leaders on the national stage have succeeded spectacularly (albeit the rest of us would probably quite like to know just where we have ‘not been’ actually is).

However, despite that view it does not feel to me as if we are being especially well served by our supposed leaders. Friends have indicated to me that they felt that certain characters would lead us well because they have charisma. I confess that my response on that was that an awful lot of the worst dictators and despots the world has seen undoubtedly had charisma, and my own preference would probably be for dull competence. However it seems to me at the moment there is quite a lot of dullness about on the political stage, but I remain to be convinced that there is an equal amount of competence.

One of the themes that comes across from looking at various thoughts is that true leadership comes with a degree of humility, and that this humility needs to come when leading, not being humble after being humbled. One version of the concept, which I have seen expressed in various forms is Andrew Carnegie’s, ”no man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it”.

That does not necessarily mean hiding one’s light under a bushel – “Example is leadership” said Albert Schweitzer, and that example will of course need to be visible to carry any weight.

One point made can be used as a negative comment, but also in a business context it can be a positive, as it shows that time for thought can be valuable, particularly I suggest if you wish to be a disruptor. That concept from Jean- Paul Sartre is included as “just a thought”.

But if you look for the encapsulation of how to behave as a leader then my own preference for how to approach it, and what it means for you in terms of approach, was beautifully set out by Nelson Mandela – and what better example could you listen to - “it is better to lead from behind and put others in front,  especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership”.

JUST A THOUGHT

Only the guy who isn’t rowing has the time to rock the boat.

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