Why I am still interested in charismatic leadership

October 16, 2015

NietzseThe pendulum of fashion is swinging against the charismatic leader.  But it is too early to dismiss the style and claim that we are now in a post-charismatic era

It would take another Nietzsche to stand wild-eyed in the market place and declare The Charismatic Leader is Dead.  I may be wild-eyed from time to time, but I’m no Nietzsche.

What seems to be happening is a growing appreciation of the downside of the charismatic style in business, politics, sport and other fields of human endeavor. We continue to be fascinated by Special Ones, and not disinterested at their falling from grace.

In the last few days, further stories are have been reported about the charismatics Jose Mourinho and Camila Batmanghelidjh.

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Mr Tsvangirai’s U-Turn and David Cameron’s “Gay Cash”

December 2, 2011

Zimambwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s political prospects appear damaged with revelations about his private life. He claims he has been victim of a political plot with accusations echoing some of those familiar to those following the media scandals in the UK over the last few months.

There are two stories, perhaps interrelated here. The first is the furore over Mr Tsvangirai’s private life and the implications for his battle for power against Robert Mugabe. The second story is the wider set of issues in Africa around foreign intervention into traditional beliefs including the moral status of homosexuality.

In the UK, the first story was portrayed in these terms by the Telegraph, drawing extensively from its South African correspondents:

Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister, has walked away from a second marriage, 12 days after traditional negotiations, claiming he has been the victim of a plot to discredit him politically. Mr Tsvangirai lost his first wife of 31 years, Susan, in a car crash two years ago in which he himself was badly injured. [Since then]
He is understood to have met Miss Karimatsenga in South Africa last year and the couple went on holiday together at Christmas.

When the news of the marriage broke last week, Mr Tsvangirai’s office initially denied it, suggesting only that he had paid “damages” for impregnating her.

“My original intention was to make this thing work, to rebuild my family once again and to serve my country with honour and distinction not only as a national leader, but as a respected family man who owned up to his responsibility by following cultural and traditional procedures.”

But he said that from the moment he sent a delegation to negotiate for Miss Karimatsenga’s hand, he became “an innocent bystander in what is supposed to be my relationship”.

“The ‘marriage’ has been hijacked and there is an apparent active political hand that is now driving the processes.

“Everything is so well-choreographed. The intention is clear: to inflict maximum damage on my person and character for political gain.”

He also hinted that Miss Karimatsenga herself might have been in on the plot.

The Second story

The second story has emerged from the recent Commonwealth Leader’s meeting at Perth. Here’s how one report from Africa put it:

Not long ago, the media in UK reported how the UK government had indicated it would cut aid to Ghana, Malawi and other countries which were not gay-friendly… The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, would later confirm those reports. He told journalists at the Commonwealth Meeting in Perth that the UK government would cut aid to anti-gay nations. And one of these nations happened to be Osagyefo’s Ghana.

President John Evans Atta-Mills has called the bluff of David Cameron. He told journalists that no country could force Ghana to accept aid with conditions that contradict the values of the country. Under his presidency Ghana will never legalize homosexuality, he stated.

The same article went on to suggest that Morgan Tsvangirai had made a U-turn over gay rights (which was described as potentially a political blunder) under pressure from Western backers such as the UK Government.

Regional Issues in a Global Spotlight

Leaders we deserve has subscribers from around the world. It will be interesting to learn of regional perspectives of these important stories. “The leader as hero” in many parts of the world is being replaced by maps which claim the benefits of a post-charismatic perspective. In the West, we will at least have become more familiar with the traditional factors within the continued political “battle for Zimbabwe”.

Apple faces a Jobless future

August 25, 2011

Tim Cook and Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, iconic leader and one of the great creative innovators of his era, leaves the company he founded and built into a global superstar

The departure of Steve Jobs as leader of Apple on medical grounds has been anticipated in and outside Apple for some time. We can anticipate even more news coverage of the iconic figure whose design genius was behind a steam of products since the time of the first Apple personal computer, launched as the Apple 2

Quirky but much loved

This was quirky but much but much loved. Even the earliest versions were revolutionary in appearance and functioning. They suggested a future for personal computing that could not be imagined in the market leading IBM product and its host of imitators trying to be as compatible as a possible at lower cost.

The Apple Mac

Then the Apple Mac came along. This was even more obviously evidence of new species emerging. They are coming from a common ancestor, but retaining a genetic capacity to visualize as well as to digitalise.

IBM and clones under threat

Apple products become a serious threat to the generic sounding PC (i.e. IBM’s products and its clones). Compatibility was more an aspiration than a reality for each set of products, and even today there are enough differences to create famous entry barriers to switching from one of the two IT tribes.

Design excellence

Apple developed a brand image of innovation and design excellence. The company succeeded in grabbing a share of the emerging mobile phone market with its i-phone and then the tablet market with the i-pad. Apple stores became cathedrals for worshippers.

And each of the innovative leaps in the company was utterly associated with the design genius of Steve Jobs. Stock levels were seen to shift according to reports on his deteriorating health.

Symbolic leadership

This is one of the clearest example of symbolic leadership to be found in modern times. Steve Jobs was Apple. The closest parallel I can think of is that of Walt Disney. Incidentally, you can find fascinating comparisons of the two companies in the book Disney Wars.

All is not gloom and doom

There are naturally signs of bereavement at present at Apple. But all is not gloom and doom. Apple has had a strong internal candidate waiting to step up. The evidence is that the company has faced the realities of succession. Tim Cook is already highly regarded internally for his operational and organizational talents. He was appointed in what seemed like one last symbolic act after his strong endorsement by Steve Jobs in his letter of resignation. We will learn much more of Mr Cook in the coming months. Will Apple now enter a post-charismatic era in its public image?