... and of course for those of you thinking about all manner of nasty things related to Pooh - shame on you :-)
I spend a fair bit of time these days talking about leadership, either to individuals for whom I might be able to share helpful thoughts, or to cohorts of attendees at events such as those run by the Global Institute for Tomorrow (GIFT).
Leadership comes in a variety of forms and in many cases is the result of a good number of years spent understanding a business and the people in it. Some people are natural leaders, and display such qualities at an early age. Others get "taught" leadership skills - and yes I do think that a natural yet rough talent can be smoothed into leadership qualities with training. And then there are some people who find it hard to make the distinction between bullying and leadership - and we all know a few of those I think.
Then you have other leaders - the new cohort of leaders of companies, young companies - some profitable others not ... yet, but leaders none the less who have little experience of understanding that leadership brings with it responsibility. A requirement of them that says when things go wrong in your company you have to face the music and not run away from it saying "it's not my fault!"
Or as that interesting philosopher, Winnie the Pooh might have said "When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” Let me be clear; in this case I am not saying that some of these new leaders have very little brain - quite the opposite in fact, but what they do and what they are responsible for, like it or not, becomes quite a different beast when things come out into the open and has other people looking at it!.
Facebook's leadership for example, has been found wanting. Seriously. Was it only last year ago or a little longer, I believe, when Mr.Zuckerberg said that he was getting out more and talking to people? That must have been a revelation to him, as long as he listened to what people were saying. But last month, in 2018, he was certainly NOT getting out and about more. In fact as the scandal over Facebook's potential role in the Cambridge Analytica debacle broke Mr. Zuckerberg was conspicuous only by his absence both physically and verbally - and by his lack of an apology at least initially. He didn't attend a meeting of the company - an internal meeting no less - to respond to questions about the breach. This though isn't a piece specifically about Mr. Zuckerberg's failures - of which this has not been the only one - (he previously had to close a site he founded due to data privacy issues!!) but it is more about leadership and responsibility generally. Pooh said “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” A real leader comes out of the forest immediately and ... leads! It's not rocket science.
And as we are on leadership - news blew up this last week about young leaders of sporting teams. Australian cricket witnessed a pretty shocking display of cheating - look there's no other word for it - in South Africa and got caught. Any form of cheating is reprehensible but particularly in the sporting arenas. We have had the scandals engulfing cycling with the Tour de Farce for many years where participants were doing their best to beat the odds - illegally - and then we have the Olympics and other events where it has almost become a case of let the best chemical compound win. It just demeans the effort of those genuine talented athletes who train so hard to better their skills, but who cannot compete against drugged sportspeople.
In the case of the cricket, the Australian authorities stood up and acted quickly. They sent the identified ring-leaders home and made them face the music, which resulted in lots of tears and apologies. But was that even genuine? [A cartoon in a newspaper I read this morning shows two crocodiles together with one saying "are those cricketers tears?'] I have no expert knowledge on what to base the "genuineness' comment other than reading the reports that are available to all of us, and listening to a couple of psychologists who seem to think that there has been some media coaching going on to attract a more sympathetic attitude to these misdeeds. I cannot say, but a cheat is a cheat is a cheat and whatever the ultimate and necessary punishment faced by these particular leaders needs to be appropriate to the "crime".
Leadership is all about taking responsibility, and we are plagued on a daily basis by examples where leadership and responsibility is not being demonstrated by those on whom it falls. I know that my late Mother was a stickler at least for the responsibility bit, as you might expect from an ex-gunnery sergeant, who said ... if you do something wrong then admit it straight away, apologise for it immediately, and deal with it quickly. You will probably still get into trouble but the degree of trouble only grows with the length of time you delay.
And of course leaving the final word this time to Christopher Robin himself who said to Pooh "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think"