Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The fading mystique of leadership

There is a whiff of decay oozing from our leaders these days. Not too long ago, human belief was entirely dominated by the ruling elite, and in a diluted form this grey old game still goes on. Still we mould our lives around the crumbling mystique of leadership – abnormally competitive men and women driven by a compulsive faith in their own destiny. 

They seem desperate to achieve something grand don't they? Needing to satisfy the demands of some personal demon, they relish and esteem the flaking pomp and props of office, unwisely basking in the dusty mystique of leadership. But we lesser mortals seem to be losing interest in this hoary old game. We are growing away from it just at the point where the current lot are trying to go global. 

As the mystique crumbles, the vitality of the game seeps away. Even the idea of leadership has a flavour of something quaintly self-serving and no longer quite the decent thing. Something to do with grand ideas and mighty deeds - something not quite in tune with modern life. 

So how do we finally get them to piss off so we can move on?


Sam Vega said...

"There is a whiff of decay oozing from our leaders these days"

In the case of Brezhnev, it was literally so, wasn't it?

Max Weber still guides a lot of my thinking on leadership, or "authority" as he put it. Traditional, charismatic, and legal/rational. Most modern politicians are the latter (see the recent rise of technocrats!) with as much of the second - charismatic - as they can slather on.

Spot on about the psychological needs of those who would "lead" us. Even your average corporate middle manager has something of the monstrous about them. We are obviously doing something dreadful to a proportion of our children, or there is a genetic predisposition to be an absolute twat.

rogerh said...

As an example, Wellington was definitely a leader of the old school, but he was well supplied with gunpowder and cannon fodder and stood a good chance of suceess. Poor General Cameron is in a stickyer position and it looks as though he will end up sitting all alone on the battlefield of Western Decline, vainly bleating 'volunteers, volunteers'.

The crash has left all Europe's politicos stark naked and it is not a pretty sight. Finance provided the Brits a fig leaf, but it has blown away. We are worth no more than whatever it is we can sell to an oil-producer or a Chinaman. Sooner or later Airbus, Rolls Royce, BMW, Mercedes and Seimens will migrate eastwards. If you are still around in 2031 think Romania or old-style Poland all the way from Connemara to Krakow.

Wise politicians would have planned for this - making it cheap to unload the public sector, Whitehall and the military - for they surely will have to be unloaded.

A K Haart said...

SV - I think we may be doing something dreadful, possibly in the way these people are selected.

rogerh - unfortunately I think you are right. We deserve no better and in the long run that's what we'll get.