11. August 2019
Source: The Guardian: David Runciman
Some say a second-class mind makes for a first-class leader, others that madness is an essential feature of the role. From Trump and Obama, to Blair and Boris Johnson, which personalities are born to rule?
‘The only game-changing asset Johnson has that his predecessor may have lacked is a willingness to embrace his inner Trump’
There is a story that often gets told about modern presidents and prime ministers, and sometimes gets told by them as well. The politician spends half a lifetime working tirelessly towards the top job, with the goal of making a real difference once he or she gets there. They issue their instructions. Dutiful officials nod along encouragingly. But nothing really changes. Once the door to the Oval Office or No 10 closes behind them, and they settle their feet under the desk, the new president or prime minister finds out that it’s just another room and just another desk. It feels as if true power is still somewhere out of reach.
In politics you should never assume that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s better to know how little is waiting for you, like a weird inversion of the parable of The Wizard of Oz. In place of the Yellow Brick Road is the greasy pole, which has to be ascended to reach the Emerald City. Yet the successful climber finds that his or her fate is not to encounter a shrunken wizard at the end of it. Instead it is to become that person: the impostor behind the curtain.
How do politicians react when they discover themselves in that position? Some, like George W Bush, never quite acknowledge it. Others, like Tony Blair, decide to do something about it. Blair concluded that he had to build the machinery that would enable his administration to deliver on its ambitions. He called this instrument “the delivery unit”. It was designed to make sure that the levers in Downing Street were connected to the rest of government. Yet even after 10 years in power, Blair was frustrated with how little he had managed to achieve. One reason he was reluctant to leave office at the end was a nagging feeling that he was only just beginning to get the hang of it. Read the rest of this entry »
30. September 2015
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Subject: The Joy of Following
We hear a lot of talk promoting leadership in the workplace. But few people aspire to be followers.
Most offices are populated with too many leaders and too few followers as a result. Now, some employers are training people in “followership.” That doesn’t mean being a doormat or a docile sheep, but taking responsibility for shared goals, being a self-starter and telling leaders the awkward truth when they mess up.
It isn’t an easy sell. When consultants Marc and Samantha Hurwitz arrive to hold corporate-training programs in followership, some employers ask them not to use “the F-word,” says Ms. Hurwitz, co-author with Mr. Hurwitz of “Leadership Is Half the Story.” Employers, Mr. Hurwitz adds, say “Can you call it something else, like ‘leader support?’ ”
Countless employers, authors and coaches promote leadership skills, but what if there’s nobody to follow? WSJ’s Sue Shellenbarger discusses the traits of a good follower with Tanya Rivero. Read the rest of this entry »
23. August 2015
The harsh workplace that a New York Times story recently described plaguing Amazon represents an old-fashioned business model that will almost certainly disappear soon.
This week, a New York Times profile of Amazon’s treatment of employees has provoked a debate about the future of the workplace.
The article claims that Amazon’s professional employees are well paid and work on world-changing projects, but are pushed to the breaking point in a survival-of-the-fittest climate where they tend to burn out and leave quickly.
Readers, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, say they are appalled by the anecdotes of insensitivity in the Times report. But the controversy has raised the possibility that the underlying business model portrayed in the article is legitimate or perhaps inevitable. The Times article quotes an ex-Amazon employee who says CEO Jeff Bezos has envisioned a “new workplace: fluid but tough, with employees staying only a short time and employers demanding the maximum.” Read the rest of this entry »
19. April 2015
ANYONE WHO HAS ACHIEVED ANYTHING GREAT HAS LIKELY GOTTEN THERE AFTER REPEATED FAILURES.
Everyone experiences setbacks every now and then, but while some of us may view losses or disappointments as things that hinder us from achieving our goals, Heather Hans, licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and author of The Heart of Self-Love, says loss, disappointment, and tragedy can have the opposite effect, and may just be what we need in order to move up in both our personal and professional lives.
“If you think of anyone who has achieved anything great—take, for example, an Olympic athlete—they achieve success after repeated attempts and failure,” she says. Hans argues great success never comes without a set of failures. “Struggle is the part of the story where it’s about to get good. This is why movies have these kinds of climaxes to them. Struggle and loss are usually the precursor to success,” she says. Read the rest of this entry »
18. April 2015
Source: The Economist
Subject: Management theory: Survival of the fittest
THE MODERN THEORY of the firm is the theory of the public company: obsessed with questions such as transaction costs but blind to questions of transmitting wealth to future generations. In numerical terms, this emphasis on the public company is clearly a mistake. Its triumph is limited to the Anglo-Saxon world. The economies of most of the rest of the world—developed as well as emerging—continue to be dominated by family-focused businesses that control a wide range of companies, not just individual firms.
It is also out of date. Talk of the triumph of the Anglo-American public company might have made sense in the post-war era when the British empire still had a glow and the American Century was in full swing (though family companies continued to flourish in both countries). It makes far less sense in an increasingly integrated Europe and in rapidly emerging markets. The world’s fastest-growing region, Asia, is dominated by powerful business houses run by families. Though some of these could no doubt benefit from more focus, a significant number are Schumpeterian entrepreneurs destined for success, thanks to a rare combination of risk-taking and long-termism. Read the rest of this entry »