Geek Speak will not rescue Blackberry’s future

January 30, 2013

Blackberry 10RIM re-launches its Blackberry 10 product today. It is not helped if its executives can only use Geek Speak in press interviews

In the UK, RIM’s press agency has done its job and an interview arranged for a senior Blackberry executive to explain the new product to BBC’s Five Live radio audience [8am, Jan 30th 2012]. After a few minutes, the interviewer realised he was dealing with someone speaking a difficult executive dialect of Geek Speak.

When asked to simplify what was new about the new product the executive, naturally, continued in Geek Speak without a translator to hand.

I may have missed something

I may have missed something, as my grasp of Geek Speak is also limited. I thought he said something that sounded like the new product ‘enabled transition to a unique and exciting end-user proposition.’

Blackberry Jam

I have this scary image of discussions around RIM, owners of Blackberry, the messages communicated in geekspeak so that salespersons are able to gain optimal buy-in to the uniqueness of the offering and its platforms.

Anticipation is high

Anticipation is high on a launch believed to be make or break for blackberry. [See also here] Let’s wait a little longer to see if the Geekery justifies the GeekSpeakery


First reviews [31st Jan 2013] suggest that the Z10 is chock fulla design elements . A cunning aspect is (if I understand it) a sort of firewall between stuff for and from its Corporate use and stuff for and from its personal use. Which says to me a neat way of attracting individuals to embrace the Z10 for personal use in a way that can be sold to he Corporate paymasters dishing out the product.

Is Vladimir Putin a Transformational or a Charismatic Leader?

December 1, 2011

The question assumes the two categories are ‘either-or’. A better question: are Vlidimir Putin’s behaviours explained better by transformational or charismatic leadership maps?

Beware the ‘Either-or’ question

A quick visit to textbooks of leadership (such as Dilemmas of Leadership) provides ways of answering the questions and explains the difficulties inherent in an ‘either-or’ formulation. One reason is that an either-or perspective overlooks overlooks the key point that in empirical studies, leaders display a full range of styles including transformational and transactional features.

The charismatic leadership map

Charismatic leaders have been mapped from ancient times. The core assumption about them is that they have special skills or gifts so that followers are captivated by them and their ideas.

The transformational leadership map

The transformational map is a modern treatment of leaders (ca 1980s) which acknowledges some features are charismatic. The Transformation leader, as its label implies, transforms the worlds of their followers (which can be local to a team or organization, or global to the leader of a Nation State).

Transformational leaders are assessed most commonly on a scale developed by Bass and Avolio which captures a ‘full range’ of factors including transformational and transactional ones. Transformational leaders mostly require some transactional skills as well.

Other differences

The older maps of charismatic leadership have increasingly been extended to incorporate the ‘dark side’ of charismatic leadership manifest in tyrannical leaders. Transformational leadership has tended to treat tyrannical leaders as a special case. This has produced the so-called ‘Hitler dilemma’ for transformational research.

In part, the difficulty may be seen to require attention to the ‘dark side’ of leaders which is not generally considered.

Putin as a Grand Prix driver

A recent news article from Xinhuanet shows Mr Putin as a Grand Prix driver.

Jeff Schubert’s view

LWD subscriber Jeff Schubert notes

In order to justify his impending return to the presidency, Putin has invoked the cases of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles De Gaulle and Helmut Kohl as men who held power for a long time and who have been treated quite well be history – in contrast to Russia’s own Leonid Brezhnev.

Dmitry Peskov, his press secretary has said: “Putin reads all the time, mostly about the history of Russia. He reads memoirs, the memoirs of Russian historical state figures…”

The maps suggest…

If the distinction between transformational and charismatic style holds, a case could be made that Putin fits the older maps of someone who is actively promoted as a charismatic leader more than as the more modern transformational one.

Recent events

Recent events in The Ukraine have brought President Putin into the international spotlight. The western media have tended to mock the assiduous building of his image of the great leader, although with less contempt than in their treatments of North Korea’s incumbent. His decisive military intervention in the Ukrainian crisis has drawn attention to his power to influence world events.

Worth thinking about

Emerging events suggest that Putin is being seen as a modern illustration of The Great Man theory of leadership.. The theory was associated with Thomas Carlyle in the nineteenth century and considers that heroic and rare individuals shape the course of history. The contrary theories suggest that historical situations create powerful leaders. Cometh the hour, cometh the leader…

In many cultures the yearning for a Great Man to emerge and lead the people to greatness or rescue them from danger remains. Students are left to consider why the theory tends to ignore the Great Woman theory of leadership.

Interest in this post increased at the height of the Ukraine crisis [March 2014]. Is someone adding the Lone Ranger style to those attributed to Putin?

Could Tony Blair be a good leader for Europe?

November 15, 2009

Tony Blair

Could Tony Blair be a good leader for Europe? A Global Issue Evaluated by Dr Kamel Mnisri

The European presidency is currently the hot question as it is the first time European leaders are going to elect an EU president to speak on their behalf. Tony Blair’s nomination has been supported by the UK government.

From a leadership perspective, Tony Blair seems to be a strong candidate. His advocates can point to several significant achievements demonstrating leadership qualities. His premiership earned him an important place in both UK and international history. He was the youngest person to become PM and the only one to win three terms of governance. He is known as a good communicator and good negotiator. He was one of the peace makers in Northern Ireland., he ran the economy well and started to reform the public service. Internationally, he pushed for the EU enlargement and was appointed head of the Middle East envoy, working on behalf of US, Russia, the UN and the EU.

Detractors would argue that Tony Blair is seen by European leaders as too pro-American. The decision to follow the US and enter into war with Iraq discredited him nationally and internationally. In addition, is it relevant to have an EU president from a country that does not use the Euro?

Leadership challenges

The candidature presents more than one leadership challenge. It is an opportunity for the UK, which does not have a representative in such a high-profile position internationally. It is also a challenge for Tony Blair, as an unexpected failure could be detrimental for him and for his past as brilliant politician. As for the Labour party, having a former Labour Prime Minister at the head of the EU could be a good challenge if Labour is defeated at the general election. Moreover, it is a challenge for the Conservative party who are hostile towards the Lisbon Treaty and the EU presidency.

In the meantime, is it an advantage to have a high profile figure at the head of the EU? It is agreed that Tony Blair has the experience and the competencies for the job, but his leadership style seems to be predictable as he has already invested much nationally and internationally. In addition, the international political scene has changed over the last two years and the challenges are not the same as before: the election of Obama, the financial crisis, the new dimensions of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the conflict in the Middle East and the re-election of the Iranian leader. Now, would it not be better for the EU to have a low profile figure to negotiate with the rest of the world? A politician who has not been involved in a high stake political games of influence and power?

Other candidates

The recent objection of France and Germany to Tony Blair opened the door for other candidates. The Belgium Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy, the former Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Tapio Lipponen and especially the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and the head of the EuroGroup, Jean-Claude Juncker. He has the support of Germany and more likely of France as both country’s leaders agreed to support the same candidate. But, is he ready to give up with his position as prime minister to lead the EU?

Moreover, why not a female at the head of the EU? The Irish Mary Robinson has the profile. She is the first female, President of the Republic of Ireland and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In addition, the Republic of Ireland is more committed to the EU than the UK: EURO and recently the Lisbon treaty ratification.

The question is whether other European leaders be happy with Tony Blair as EU president. The odds are in Tony Blair’s favour as the other candidates put forward don’t match his political career. In addition, leading the EU and its 500 million citizens requires a charismatic leader who would be listened to in Washington, Beijing, Moscow and New Delhi. Here is the dilemma of the EU Leadership: an unpopular and discredited but charismatic leader or an internationally unknown figure?

If Tony Blair does get the job we will learn whether he is the leader the EU deserves and what that tells us about characteristics of a ‘good’ leader.


To Professors Jeffery Ramsbottom and Tudor Rickards for their advice and guidance.