Who and where are the great leaders?

I was browsing Apple news and ran into the bunch of articles which looked at Leadership and the qualities that successful leaders have in spades.  There was so much to choose from. I link to an article from Forbes as a starter for 10.  

Unremitting self-belief, almost bordering on arrogance, appears in many articles whilst others speak of sincerity, integrity and enthusiasm.  Of course what we look for in leaders depends very much on who is doing the looking.  In our house, my partner was looking for Government to take the lead on COVID with early lockdowns, she saw the New Zealand model of keeping everyone out as strong leadership.   Some in New Zealand see the opposite.  They see a weak leader, grabbing power, who is taking what seems to be the easy option of saying no to everything.

Yesterday we had the sad news that iconic Frank Williams died.  He brought on the current greats in FI such as Adrian Newey and Ross Brawn.  Frank Williams changed F1 forever and nearly every F1 world champion car from the mid 1980s has his DNA, be they are Williams, Benneton, Ferrari, McLaren, Brawn and Mercedes.  He was a true leader of F1, and an example of what great leadership can look like. You only have to see the affection Lewis Hamilton has for Frank whilst taking him for a hot lap (do watch the clip if you have not seen it), it concludes with Lewis saying “I appreciate you”.

(Image taken from Formula 1’s official YouTube channel:

I suspect that we don’t realise that we have a great leader until we look back as see how special they were despite their inevitable flaws.  Looking back at John Major I think we can see he did a brilliant job holding it all together.  His flaw was a lack of public charisma and that he followed the force of nature that was Mrs Thatcher (he was always on a loosing wicket).

Fast forward 25 years and, again, options are divided.  I for one, a natural centralist conservative, think Boris is the epitome of a vacillating, weak, duplicitous liar.  Others I know think he is a courageous Churchillian solution for these uncertain times.  Time will tell if he is great leader.

The one thing nearly all commentators agree with is that great leaders take responsibility and blame no one else or circumstances – they own the situation.  Let me leave you with an anecdote from Frank Williams.

Racing his driver Nelson Piquet to the airport in hire cars after a 1986 pre-season test in the south of France, Williams turned his car over, and the impact broke his neck. .

“The car banged over a few times and I’m ashamed to say it was either the sixth or seventh rollover accident I’d had in my life,” Williams said.

“I remember the sharp pain in my neck. I thought: ‘Wow, rolling over isn’t supposed to hurt that much.’ The car finished upside down and I tried to reach for the safety belt to get myself out and I couldn’t do it.

“I knew I was going to have the big one but I couldn’t slow myself down.”

Williams had been a very active man and a keen runner, but he was determined to carry on despite the difficulties caused by the accident.  Williams’ attitude to his disability was simple – it was his own fault he ended up that way so he had better just get on with it. 

Company leaders are facing a crisis. Nearly one-third of employees don’t trust management. In addition to this, employers now have to cater to the needs of the millennial generation. On average, after graduating from college, a millennial will change jobs four times before they are 32. Most of them also don’t feel empowered on their current jobs.

By Charles Whelan on 29/11/2021