Category Archives: Leadership

Has Democracy had its day?

We all have significant decisions to make in life. Whether it is buying a house, car or a yacht or to have children or not and if so when? These are but a few of the life changing options we have to consider.

Now imagine if we were to apply democracy to such decisions where would we end up?

Take buying a new house as an example. We would have to select a authority to make the decision for us and the people who formed that body would by elected by a cross section of people in the local area. Once in place the authority would undertake exhaustive surveys and discard anything that did not involve personal gain to themselves before taking the decision. The costs involved in this process would include, but not be limited to:

Setting up an office

Travel to and from that office

Secretarial support

Salaries

Pension benefits

Entertainment

Junkets to other house building areas

Campaigning for re-election

And so on!

These costs would be recovered from the people who elected them. The process would then be debated several times when another house buying authority would be allowed to join in on the basis that they automatically disagree with everything that the first authority had decided. Now obviously this is a totally untenable method and we tend to buy the house by ourselves as we do with the other important decisions in our life.

Why then do we allow democratically elected bodies to decide minor things like whether we should invade another country and kill multiple thousands of people?

When I say democracy I’m referring to the process of selecting the representatives who make these decisions for us regardless of public opinion at the time of the decision.

Every four or five years, dependent on where you live, a crumb is thrown in front of the public in the form of an election. This is a placebo or sugar covered pill that makes the general populace think they are controlling their lives.

I, at 64 years old, have never voted in my life.

Pause for effect!

Yes, I can hear the old hackneyed expression ‘If you’ve never voted you have no right to criticise!’ echoing across the ether. Yes, I do have the right and the naysayers are denying me freedom of speech.

I have never thrown myself off a cliff but would I be wrong to advise against it?

Let me quickly recap on what happens in an election. A glib tongued public speaker offers all sorts of incentives, if you vote for him, in a manner that would make a double glazing salesman blush. You think ‘That sounds okay, I’ll vote for him’ then you hear another one, with a different colour of rosette, say something very similar but decries the first candidate and you become torn between the two. Then you hear another one very similar again and he decries both the previous ones. So eventually you make an informed decision maybe based on the party your Father voted for in his day.

Regardless of the outcome one of them gets elected and if you are a discerning person you watch how they behave only to be horrified that he has back pedalled on all his promises. What do you then? You then decide that you won’t vote for him or her again in four or five years and think that will show him.

How much damage can that person do in the period of his time in office?

He/she will take part in debates and votes on whether or not to commit your troops to fight and die in a foreign country. Did he ask you about that?

Is he better qualified than you to make that decision because the majority of people in his or her constituency have voted on his stand against government spending or over-taxation?

If the question about staying or leaving an economic community was put to a referendum would the general public know enough about the consequences of the decision and the effect on the economy? Probably not but a rag tag mixture of elected members voted in on election promises apparently do.

It is oft said that democracy is not perfect but what is a better alternative? The answer to that is a similar system to the Turkish government. There, if it is considered that a government got into power through election promises, and could be proved that they failed to fulfil those promises, the country has the right to take them to court and have them thrown out. This has happened on several occasions.

The elections will happen shortly in the UK, consider what I have discussed here and watch what happens after the final wrangling over power is settled. Then six months after the election think about what you can, given your democratic right, do about the elected member’s behaviour.

Leadership. Are we getting what we need? Trump/Clinton update

How does this bear up with regard to the present presidental election race? Leadership?

 

Presentation1 I’ve recently had a poke at the teaching profession and how it could be affecting world progress and now I would like to have a look at our leadership from world heads of country and downwards. It has been said that leadership cannot be taught. It is perhaps something you are born to but may require some coaching to bring it out. Certain training organisations and management consultants profess to their ability to make leaders out of most people. Is it possible in ancient Macedonia that a Greek management consultant could have said this? ‘Alexander? He wasn’t so great until we got hold of him! His initial idea of leadership was to find out where people were going and then walk in front of them!’ The armed forces, well, certainly the UK ones have a very good handle on leadership qualities. Servicemen will not follow just anyone just because they have a badge of rank.  There must be a common respect upwards and downwards and this respect has to be earned. Staff assessments are carried out every three months and sometimes very scathing remarks are made. i.e. ‘No person would follow this man except out of idle curiosity!’ Okay, let’s start at the top. Persons in elected office are often termed as world leaders.  This is possibly confusing as in themselves they may not be leaders. In the bigger countries an army of advisors, speech writers, dress groomers et al are at hand with prompts waiting to provide the right response to the ‘leader’ in his or her role as a mouthpiece.  To the populace at large this seems as if the leader has all the wisdom, experience and confidence that they require to serve and protect them. Have a look at this sketch from Rowan Atkinson and Griff Rhys Jones to see this in action!

Presidential Advice, click here.

Most of these ‘leaders’ are the product of democracy where all the little people, every few years, dependent on their constitution, swallow the placebo of voting them in then have no further influence on what decisions they make until re-election time. The question of ‘Why George W Bush? And why twice?’ rests uneasy on the US electorate to this day.  But what is the alternative to democracy? Dictatorship is one alternative and generally the dictator has obtained power through force, military coup or insidious coercion and gradual change of laws to make it impossible to remove them from office.  Sometimes dictatorship works but rarely for long.  A benign dictatorship is good as in the case of the early Margaret Thatcher but power corrupts and total power corrupts totally. The one thing about dictatorship is that a period of relative stability is created.  People know routinely what to expect on a day to day basis.  It is a strange fact that some Russians would prefer Stalin to return regardless of the atrocities he carried out, some of the Iraqis feel the same about Saddam Hussein and the Chinese about Mao Tse Tung. The problem is we all need leadership and good or bad it does give us direction. That follows all the way down to the individual.  A lot of people will agree that a lack of leadership in the workplace leads to upset, confusion and serious effects on productivity.  It is something that companies should seriously look at in their staffing needs.  Unfortunately some firms promote people based on technical ability and expect leadership to follow.  Some of them cannot even recognise leaders in their midst annd suffer accordingly. We should all look at the syndrome known as lifeboat mentality.  This has been observed on numerous occasions following a shipwreck for whatever reason. The threat to life in that situation sometimes brings the most unlikely characters to the fore regardless of their position before getting into the lifeboat.  A long term veteran Ship’s Captain may follow the instructions of a pastry chef if it can be established that he would be better in providing their salvation. One of the main characteristics of a leader is confidence, in themselves and the ability to inspire confidence in others. It a fact that you cannot successfully lead a cavalry charge, if you feel uncomfortable on a horse! The main consideration of a good leader is not to create followers but to create more leaders and sit back confident in the belief that they are working towards a better future for all.  Great leaders see this as the only reward they need.