Leaders in the news

November 28, 2015

As November ends, more leadership stories fill the headlines

Marissa Mayer

In preparing posts for LWD I am detecting a reduction in fresh stories of heroic leaders.   Some years ago I could select from several available on any day of the week to discuss with my students. Now the stories more often report leaders whose actions and decisions have turned out badly.

Marissa Mayer

Among  leaders under attack is Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer who finds her turnaround plans in disarray, while facing criticism of a poor approach in dealing with employee engagement.

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Jose Mourinho has a long memory

November 23, 2015

Corporal Jones

Jose Mourinho arrives in Israel for Chelsea’s European Cup match against Maccabi Tel Aviv.  Last year, Chelsea would have been expected to win the match easily against the weakest team in their pool. But their early season form has remained fragile. In the press conference, he remembers how Grahame Le Saux let him down fourteen years earlier

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Aung San Suu Kyi is political leader of the month

November 18, 2015


The 2015 elections in Myanmar await ratification.  The lengthy transition of the country towards a representative democracy seems closer.  The leadership of Aung San Suu Kui has been lengthy and heroic.  She is Leaders We Deserve political leader of the month.

Nothing is straightforward to the outside world, in the politics of Myanmar.  The country has had a painful transition from a colonial outpost of the British Empire though a military regime and now edges towards a democratic state with leaders appointed through free and fair elections.

The Leader who cannot be president

Now it seems victory in the polls has been accepted although the prevailing system secures military presence in both chambers of the country’s legislature.  This means that Suu Kyi is excluded from post of President on the law introduced which precludesappointment of anyone married to a non-Burmese partner. This seems designed with the primary purpose of excluding Suu Kyi  if her party were to gain power. She has noted crisply that would not matter as she would be able to overrule the president if necessary.

One constant in the battle for power has been the significant leadership influence exercised by Ann San Suu Kyi  during her lengthy periods of detention.  Her story of gradual concessions wrong from those in power, including the military, has been likened to those won by Nelson Mandela during and after his incarceration.

Critical events

Previous posts in LWD have touched on the critical events . These included the pressure exerted by the international community rejecting brutal suppression of opposition by the military forces;  the recognition of pressure from the world community by General Thein Sein, and the delaying tactics by the military and ruling party as hopes of change increase. The process echoes the acceptance by De Klerk of the need for change in South Africa as it moved to multi-racial democracy.

The realities of power

Over the last few months, the dilemmas of leadership are emerging.  Aung Sang has political balances to deal with.  This may explain what she said as well as what she did not say during the election campaign. Reformists and well-wishers around the world will be watching how she deals with the oppression of the Rohingya minority in Myanyar.

The Charismatic Leader

I have tended to emphasize the dark side of charismatic leadership in LWD posts. The greater the heroic image presented, the more important it is to assess the human behind the iconography. I found Nelson Mandela’s achievements all the more admirable when I accepted that he did not have to be beyond reproach for some of his actions. I am hoping that the achievements of Suu Kyi will similarly be seen as the more remarkable coming from not a flawless symbol of hope but a human being doing great things.



Why England Rugby is still in denial

November 16, 2015

Warren Gatland

England Rugby is still recovering from its World Cup performances and the sacking of head coach Stuart Lancaster. Media conversations illustrate the point

The agonies of England’ s Rugby Union defeats in the World Cup may not have been lessened by the splendid victory of its Rugby League team yesterday in its International Series against New Zealand.

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No more words

November 15, 2015

Indy Paris Rotated

Only support





November 15 2015

Gatwick Airport briefly closed. Jerome Chauris from Vendome, Loir-et- Cher arrested for possession of air rifle and knife.




Steve Cram: “We appoint the leaders we deserve”

November 12, 2015

Steve CramNearly ten years ago, the first Leaders We Deserve post was published. Steve Cram suggests its relevance to the current problems of international sporting institutions

Hours after the monumental Press Conference and publication of WADA’s report [9 October 2015] Steve Cram gave his views on the crisis in sports management globally. He was asked why the whole situation had been allowed to go on unchecked. He replied that he was over fifty years old and had been living with drug doping since he was a young (and world-beating) athlete. We are all involved, he added. Media, athletes, administrators … we appointed them, we get the leaders we deserve.

Steve Cram gave a video interview [10 October 2015] in which he elaborated on his earlier remarks:

Cram says “we are all to blame” for allowing people “not up to scratch” to get into powerful positions in world sport, but believes that IAAF president Lord Coe is the man to enact change within athletics.

For those interested, the ABOUT box on our home page traces the conversations with subscribers since the blog started in 2016 and introduces its basic ideas:

The concept behind the Blog’s title is that leadership can be treated as a social concept. We create our leaders, and to some degree build them up and destroy them. In that sense, we are responsible for the influence that leaders exercise over the rest of us. If we understand more about this, we may better understand and mediate the behaviour of leaders (In very early discussion thread, someone rightly pointed out the importance of clarifying ‘who are the ‘we’ in all this).

My previous studies had been mainly of business leaders, but I could see how there could be some similarities, and some differences, in the leadership stories in other fields, such as politics, military and sporting endeavours.


IAAF upstages FIFA as a case study of leadership challenges

November 9, 2015


Move over FIFA, make way for the IAAF, which braced itself on Monday [9 November 2015] for an explosive independent report set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)


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What shall we do about the Brits?

November 9, 2015

CalibanPolitical tensions provide opportunities for leadership interventions. Sadly, they often result in scapegoating and unwillingness to see beyond a restricted perspective on complex issues

An example recently can be found in the various pressures felt through the movement of people in search of safety, economic advancement, or even pursuit of a life style choice.

One relatively unexplored perspective was raised in an article in The Independent, this week:

So many Brits now live abroad that they’re causing immigration debates. Oh, the irony. In an ideal world, every time your local racist started referring to that pesky problem of immigrants “stealing our jobs”, every British immigrant would appear, singing a heavenly chorus of: “Britain has more immigrants living abroad than India, China, Bangladesh, Poland and Hun-gar-reeeee!”


The article prompted me into producing a few lines of verse.

What shall we do about the Brits?

They take our jobs

Are idle slobs

And don’t like working down the pits.

What can’t they stay where they belong

Instead of taking up our beds

And living in our garden sheds?

The stress they cause us is all wrong.


Replies in verse or prose welcomed.

Ronaldo says he is best in the world, Serena says she is Superwoman. Self-esteem of our sporting icons

November 6, 2015

This week, Christiano Ronaldo announced he was the greatest football player of his era. Serena Williams thwarted the theft of her mobile phone and compared herself with Superwoman. Together with the self-obsessed comments of Jose Mourinho, the stories raise interesting questions about the fragile egos of some of our sporting heroes and heroines

The Special One

The stories are familiar to sports fans around the world. In football, the apparent decline in the fortunes of Chelsea Football Club has been accompanied over several months by a remarkable series of outbursts by Jose Mourinho, the self-styled Special one. This week his doting fans at Chelsea roared support as his team won their mid-week Champions League match. His agent has also come to his defense as Jose continues to make headlines with interviewers in which he appears to be increasingly self-deluded. He has most recently lost his appeal against a £50,000 fine and a different punishment of a stadium ban.

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Help choose the sporting leader of October from McCaw, O Connell, Owens and Klopp

November 1, 2015

Richie McCawLeaders We Deserve subscribers are invited to submit candidates for Leader of the Month. The following attracted attention in recent news stories. This post reveals my four sporting leaders of October. Unsurprisingly, three were from the Rugby World Cup

Richie McCaw

Increasingly recognized as  rugby’s leader of his generation before and after New Zealand’s World Cup win and maybe as the greatest of all time [GOAT]. Photo is of Richie in 2008 from wikipedia.

Paul O Connell

Not for his heroic injury-wrecked Rugby World Cup, but for his long term impact as captain on the Irish Rugby team.

Juergen Klopp

New Liverpool manager Klopp identified for his charisma even before the victory against Chelsea [Saturday 31st October]

Nigel Owens

Takes top spot refereeing the final of Rugby’s World Cup. Rated best in the World.  Humorists in Wales said they know Wales would get to the finals. Owens is  already a celebrity off the field for his courageous stance on gay rights.


Comments and suggestions of nominations to add to the list are welcomed.