Leadership stories of the week: Bo Xilai, Glenn Greenwald, Narendra Dabholkar

August 22, 2013

In China, the long-running saga of the charismatic leader Bo Xilai reaches court. In the UK, the Brazilian partner of a Guardian journalist is detained at Heathrow. This adds to the Edward Snowden story of the leaking confidential information to the embarrassment of the US and UK government security agencies. In India, Narendra Dabholkar an advocate of rationality, is killed

As this is examination season, I have added brief notes for leadership students.

The Bo Xilai trial

This story of the rise and fall of the charismatic Chinese leader Bo Xilai continues. This week [August 2013] Bo Xilai goes on trial. A long-running drama reaches a critical stage. The story has been followed and been through over twenty updates in an earlier LWD post. These need to be sifted through as a starting point to evaluating what happened in this complex story of leadership, ambition, charisma, and global implications. Writing a post on the trial requires considerable thought or it will be mostly speculation

The Guardian and the latest in the Snowden spy leaks story

In the UK, The Guardian newspaper makes news itself The background to the story according to CNN:

Lawyers acting for David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, said they will bring his case to the High Court in London on Thursday [Aug 22 2013] after he was detained at Heathrow Airport.
Greenwald, who works for The Guardian newspaper, has been at the forefront of high-profile reports exposing secrets in U.S. intelligence programs, based on leaks from former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Miranda, a Brazilian citizen, spent nearly nine hours in detention Sunday being questioned under a provision of Britain’s terrorism laws. He was stopped as he passed through London on his way from Berlin to his home in Brazil.

For students of leadership, we have here a typical ‘story within a story’. An examination of the dilemmas facing the various leaders involved is a worthwhile exercise.

The murder of Narendra Dabholkar

In India, Narendra Dabholkar an advocate of rationality and a kind of Indian Richard Dawkins is killed. The story is being presented as the fate of a modernizing leader threatening traditional ‘superstitions’ and perhaps being killed for his views. This is a version of the dilemmas facing reforming and charismatic leaders.

Postscript

Another UK story. The ‘Best and worse Pensions providers’ are named. I would argue that the review is valuable information, but needs to be recognized as being about ‘best current yield’ rather than ‘best Pension’ providers.


Low Status High Security: lessons from the Snowden case

August 19, 2013

By John Keane

The Snowden case has drawn attention to a characteristic of espionage in an electronic age in which high security information is accessible to security-cleared contractors of relatively low status

The phenomenon of electronic espionage by low-status contractors is becoming increasingly discussed after several high-profile leaking stories, which for shorthand sre being labelled as wikileaks. The BBC noted recently that the conditions are well-known, but little has been done to address the problem. The article points to the need to grant contractors high security status. They cite the large consulting firm Booz Allen as having remarkably high numbers for staff cleared for accessing Government information. Of its 25,000 staff, nearly half have security clearance to top secret class information. These are the ranks from which Edward Snowden emerged.

A leadership dilemma

Security analysts recognize that the management of vast information flows requires considerable back-up support. I think of it as a wormhole in the blogosphere through which data can slip. In principle, the dangers can be reduced by greater care in allocating access to highly sensitive data. In practice we have a leadership dilemma of the electronic age.

The author

This post is written by Dr John Keane of Urmston University in Northern England where he teaches and researches into leadership and the history of economics. The views expressed are those of the author.


Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and the Rise of the Heroic Villain

June 11, 2013


The old certainties of heroes and villains are being swept away in a global world of whistle blowers and spies

This week [June 2013], Edward Snowden, an articulate 29 year old American revealed a story of a vast and secret operation conducted by the National Security Agency [the NSA]. At the same time, Bradley Manning the US soldier in the wikileaks affair stands trial as a traitor.

Snowden and Manning have both been portrayed as dangerous and misguided, while at the same time they have found admirers for their courageous stance against the dangers inherent in State security activities.

The Guardian Newspaper broke the story, which had been volunteered by Snowden

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing [Snowden’s] identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.

The Prism program

Reality mirrors fiction in the revelations by Snowden of The Prism spying program.

Apple, Facebook and Google issued strongly-worded denials that they had knowingly participated in Prism, a top-secret system at the National Security Agency that collects emails, documents, photos and other material for agents to review.

The Traitor Hero

In the 1970s, Daniel Ellsberg [mentioned above] leaked The Pentagon Papers which revealed Government decision-making in the Vietnam war. His status as traitor was revised as he received international recognition of his actions. Manning stands trial as a traitor in America. Snowden, currently in Hong Kong [June 2013] believes he will face a similar fate. President Obama struggles to contain the story

Heroes or Traitors? Or both?

Ellsberg has come out in support of Snowden as a hero. Initial press comments are polarized but there is a strong case for accepting a ‘both and’ rather than an ‘either or’ perspective.