The case of Farmer Gow and his Nazi cows

January 7, 2015

A British farmer was forced to cull a herd of cows genetically modified for aggressive behaviour as part of the Third Reich’s cultural propaganda programme

According to the Independent, [January 5th, 2015] The Nazis saw some bizarre symbolic significance in breeding cattle for the purpose of obtaining prized characteristics of muscularity  and ferocity.  There is something Wagnerian in the efforts of the German brothers Heinz and Lutz Heck who in the 1920s attempted to recreate a species of extinct ancient wild bulls, from the closest available breed identified as Spanish fighting cattle.

Derek and the Heck cows

Nearly a hundred years later, in 2009,  An English farmer, Derek Gow, introduced a small herd  into his West Devon dairy farm.  Sadly, the efforts of the brothers Heck had achieved some of the required results on his acquired livestock.  Most of the animals were uncontrollable, and were reported as having ‘repeatedly tried to kill farm workers’.

Mr Gow took the decision that it would be best to send the most violent beasts to the abattoir.

Were there other solutions?

I was reminded of a story published in LWD some years ago on the merits of Tai Chi in calming cows.

 

https://leaderswedeserve.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/tai-chi-happy-cows.jpg

 

Or maybe a cow whisperer could have been called in?

Another LWD theme has been horse-whispering and the principles of trust-based leadership. Perhaps these might have suggested another way of dealing with Farmer Gow’s troublesome cows


21st Century Leadership: the jury is out [part 2]

May 1, 2014

Venus ascendingThe judge continues his summing up by examining the evidence brought before the court of five emerging trends in 21st Century Leadership

Members of the jury. I will complete my summing-up this morning and then provide you with final instructions which you are to follow in reaching your verdict.

I turn first to the five emerging theories brought before this court as relevant to leadership in the 21st century. Before I do that I will comment on the uniqueness of the five theories. In this respect I am reminded of an ancient authority who said that there is nothing new under the sun. Indeed, each of these ‘new’ theories has connections with earlier theories, and may be seen as emergent of the old with new definitions. You must not become confused by such labels. I will offer a working definition and a few brief notes on each theory paying particular attention to connections with the Dominant Rational Model of Leadership

First we heard about Level 5 leadership. This is considered a style which is characterized by personal humility and fierce resolve. The theory presents itself as evidence that Level 5 leaders are more successful than charismatic leaders in comparable situations. This is seen as evidence we are moving towards a post-charismatic understanding of leadership effectiveness. I should add that the major study of Level 5 leadership reported to us applied the scientific methodology of establishing rational proof. This makes its approach modern and supporting the dominant rational model, rather than post-modern and challenging it.

The second emerging theory, is Distributed Leadership. As implied in its name, Distributed Leadership is a theory about sharing of leadership responsibilities. This description is close to the roles and structuring found in in the older models of scientific management. Witness statements were provided from contemporary sports teams, musical ensembles and military tactical teams. Distributed leadership was presented mostly as a strictly rational approach. However, business practitioners also mentioned the benefits of fostering team spirit and initiative, leading to ’empowered’ team participants acting beyond formally designated leadership roles. You may conclude that such considerations go beyond a totally rational explanation of the theory

The third emerging theory is Trust-based Leadership. Trust-based leadership has become popular among consultants and practicing leaders as we heard from the witness statements. The special feature of trust-based leadership is achieving results through gaining trust of colleagues and the wider network of social contacts. As described my practitioner leaders, trust based leadership appears as an instrumental approach to achieving a leader’s goals. This was described by the academic Joseph Rost as typical of the technological and rational belief system of much of 20th century leadership. In other words, the belief systems of advocates of trust-based leadership are strongly influenced by the dominant rational model.

The fourth emerging theory is that of Creative Leadership. A creative leader is someone who stimulates creative outcomes in others through a style encouraging change and innovation. An important aspect of creative leadership is that it helps overcome dilemmas in decision-making by escaping ‘either-or’ thinking. Creative leadership is a challenge to purely rational approaches and as with trust-based leadership can be traced to pre-modern theories such as charismatic leadership.

The fifth emerging theory is Positive Leadership Positive Leadership promotes positive self-image as a means of personal development. It is based on the positive psychology movement, which itself can be traced to humanistic psychology. The style is affirmative, encouraging and celebrating success. It is regarded with suspicion by many authorities of cognitive psychology who remain more closely wedded to models of internal mental constructions. Put simply, Positive Leadership challenges the dominance of rational models of psychology and of leadership.

You will have to examine each theory in turn and explore how it relates to the dominance of the rational model of leadership. Before you retire to begin that task, I intend to summarize one more set of witness statements. These were five other leadership themes which were mentioned more briefly in the evidence provided in this trial. They may nevertheless turn out to be highly significant in your deliberations. I suggest we take a short break, after which I will complete by summing up with reference to these five theories.

Witness Statements

British Quality Foundation: Leading with Vision, Inspiration and Integrity

To be concluded


21st Century Leadership: the jury is out

April 29, 2014

The jury is out on the emerging leadership maps of the 21st century. In this first report, we hear the summing up by the judge dealing with the evidence of the rise of rational belief systems from the time of Plato to the 18th century enlightenment and beyondThe Judge

Members of the jury. You have the responsibility to evaluate the credibility of the case for and against the leadership theories of the 21st century. To do so, you have to assess the accounts of witnesses brought forward by the prosecution and the defense. The theories placed before you are: Level 5 leadership, Distributed leadership, trust-based leadership, creative leadership, positive leadership, authentic leadership, sustainability leadership, discursive leadership, visionary leadership, charismatic leadership, and transformational leadership,

The theories brought before you are those that have become more powerful since the start of the millennium. Before I summarize the evidence, I believe it will be helpful if I outline the historical background to these theories, and particularly the influence of the dominant rational model, accused of being the ring leader of the entire group.

You will recall hearing from several witnesses that the influential leadership theories of the 20th century were broadly considered to be based on a dominant belief system in the effectiveness of rational actions informed by rational reasoning. That is to say, leadership was the execution of rational behaviours by rational actors.

The advocates of rationality have pointed to the great advances made through application of such rational behaviours for over two millennia. Two thousand years, members of the jury. Rationality, it has been claimed, was worked out as a means of establishing truths about the material world, and the worlds of science and mathematics. Many centuries later a new philosophic approach to rationality was worked out which claimed it to be the key that unlocked human consciousness from a state of ignorance or unenlightened beliefs. You heard the philosopher Immanuel Kant state that [I quote] “immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another.” In other words, enlightenment is the process of undertaking to think for oneself, to employ and rely on one’s own intellectual capacities in determining what to believe and how to act.

The French academician René Descartes gave evidence of his rationalist system of philosophy and of the objectivity which reveals reality. The Enlightenment is sometimes called “the Age of Reason”. Its leading philosophers followed Descartes’s attempts to deal with the issue of objectivity and the reality of what we perceive and believe to be true.

The enlightenment ushered in an age of rationality and modernity as science and the scientific methods of analysis helped in the advances in industrial practices. An age of modernity in thinking and creating had replaced earlier less enlightened ages.

By the 20th century, the scientific approach of rationality, if I may use a popular expression, appeared to be the only show in town. As I have explained it, I have not yet made an important point. The rational model has indeed been dominant for over two centuries. Dominant but not, if I am to be precise, utterly without rivals. There were other shows in town, and it is witnesses of these that were introduced by the prosecution, who argue that they remain muted as evidence of the excessive power being wielded by the dominant rational model in leadership theorizing.

I will now move to the ten theories and the evidence of the influence of the dominant rational model.

[To be continued with the judge’s summing up of the ten theories]

Level 5 leadership,
Distributed leadership,
trust-based leadership,
creative leadership,
positive leadership,
authentic leadership,
sustainability leadership,
discursive leadership,
visionary leadership,
charismatic leadership,
transformational leadership.

Expert witness statements

Matheson, Carl, “Historicist Theories of Rationality“, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),

Bristow, William, “Enlightenment“, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),


Racing chaos at Cheltenham: A personal view

March 15, 2012

The great Monty Roberts has been a formative influence on my thinking, not just about horse management but also about human leadership. I was reminded of the links between the two at events at the Cheltenham festival this year

Tudor Rickards

I did not attend the spring festival of horse-racing at Cheltenham. I didn’t even watch transmissions of its races live, but later saw news bulletins about one race which produced headlines for the wrong reasons.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase

The billed highlight of the day was the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The Telegraph’s perspective focused on the tight finish in which the favourite lost narrowly. Read more carefully, the account [in synopsis below] also mentioned the serious accident at the start of the race:

One split second of confusion at a badly dolled-off final fence left Irish jockey Andrew Lynch in tears and Sizing Europe’s two-mile title defence in tatters following a dramatic Queen Mother Champion Chase, won by Finian’s Rainbow at Cheltenham on Wednesday [March 14th, 2012]. When Wishfull Thinking fell at the fence on the first circuit, smashing through the running rail – firing Richard Johnson into the ground and injuring a photographer in the melee – it changed this championship contest at a stroke.

Sizing Europe had been enjoying a nice run in behind, but was left alone out in front much earlier than Lynch had wanted. Finian’s Rainbow and Barry Geraghty drew closer but after clearing what had become the final obstacle, both Lynch and Geraghty were suddenly confronted with a fence that was dolled off just on the inside, where the injured Johnson lay on the landing side.
Both jockeys veered sharply right, and then right again, when it dawned on them that the fence would be by-passed completely. In a hard-fought finish, Finian’s Rainbow got the better of Sizing Europe to win, but clearly indecision had marred the closing stages of a gripping battle.

The second story

The second story, was [in the real-time radio broadcast] the potential serious injuries to a jockey Richard Johnson, to a photographer, and to spectators at the final fence of the first circuit. Richard Johnson was still in harms way beneath the ‘dolled-of’ fence as the race neared completion. The Telegraph added:

Curiously, there was no stewards inquiry, and officials were quick to dismiss the incident. Paul Barton, the stipendiary steward, told reporters the bypass procedures had been implemented correctly.

Monty-Roberts and intelligent horsemanship

Monty Roberts, the great equine specialist, made an impression on the Queen Mother at his skills in helping spooked race-horses calm down and perform to their capabilities. His ‘controversial’ ideas contributed to the movement to reduce abuse of horses including excessive use of the whip (still a contentious issue this year). He would have been distressed, but not particularly surprised at the events at Cheltenham yesterday in the Queen Mother Champion Chase

Acknowledgement

Image of Monty Roberts, Martin Clunes and Kelly Marks is from the Gloucester Mercury


Cheltenham Revives the Carrot Stick and Whip Debate

March 14, 2008

kelly-marks.jpg

The annual Cheltenham festival produced another debate on the use of the whip in horse racing. Does it have anything to offer on the question of carrots, sticks, and motivational leadership for humans?

The Cheltenham festival is one of the year’s racing highlights in the UK. It is sometimes described as Ireland’s greatest racing event, so powerful an influence is exercised there from horses, trainers, and above all punters, from across the Irish Sea. It tends to coincide with parliamentary matters, and MPs often wrestle with split loyalties attracting their attention.

This year the festival suffered from the storms sweeping the South of England. Wednesday’s racing was completely postponed, which at least helped politicians keep their minds on Alistair Darling’s budget, about which enough has already been said.

Katchitt’s Triumph

One the previous day, Katchitt won the Champion Hurdle, a rare British success in recent years in a race where has been a frequent success for the Irish in recent times. Much scatological mirth over name. General agreement that the horse needed ‘firm’ handling. The controversial Robert Thornton was considered the ideal jockey for such a horse. Katchitt, and jockey Robert Thornton are pivotal figures in our story.

The race was described in The Times on line

Tom Scudamore had set a strong pace on Osana … under pressure a long way out but rallied to all his jockey’s urgings and was closing again at the line. Katchit, though, is an implacable opponent and, understandably, has a special place in his jockey’s heart. “He’s not the classiest horse in the world but he gives you everything,” Thornton said. “If they were all like him, this would be an easy job.”

Thornton was leading jockey here last year and is repeating his routine of refusing to have his long fair hair cut until after the meeting. His liaison with King is now one of the strongest in racing and the trainer insists that he “would not swap him for any other stable jockey”. Things, though, have not always been so cordial. Both previously worked for the late David Nicholson, where King was an authoritarian assistant and Thornton a rebellious young conditional jockey. “I was a snotty-nosed kid,” Thornton conceded, with King adding: “We didn’t speak much in those days but I think we have both grown up for the better.”


The Guardian [Wednesday march 12th, 2008] picked up on the debate on use of the whip:

Robert Thornton rode two winners at Cheltenham … and received two consecutive four and three-day bans for his excessive use of the whip only hours after a top-level summit aimed at stamping out the practice … New shock-absorbing crops are in use but it was conceded that horses can still be harmed if the whip is abused, and there appears to be a real desire across racing to improve the sport’s animal-welfare image … [although] the disqualification of horses was ruled out as a possible punishment by the representatives of the racing fraternity who attended yesterday’s meeting, and Thornton’s status as a double winner still stood despite his breach of the rules.

I had trouble finding it mentioned at all in most accounts in the sports and racing press. The issue warranted two lines in The Scotsman’s report

…Thornton’s battling display did not go unnoticed by the stewards, who suspended him for three days for using his whip in the incorrect place

The Times article above was as concise on the matter:

Thornton acquired whip bans, totalling seven days, on both his winners yesterday, though neither horse was needlessly berated.

The Great Whip Debate

It turns out that a debate is developing again around the use of the whip in horse-racing. I came across this topic some years ago through the contributions of champion jockey Kelly Marks and her company Intelligent Horsemanship, and her mentor Monty Roberts at Manchester Business School. These were influential to us in the development of a managerial concept of Trust based Leadership, in which a leader operates ‘by invitation’.

Trust-based leadership has elements of earlier concepts such as people-centred leadership. It adds a notion of influence through invitational means, rather than transactional ones such as sticks and carrots. The connection to the horse-whip debate is clear.

A recent textbook account can be found in Dilemmas of Leadership.

The debate is a highly emotive one. In her books, Kelly Marks tells of prejudice against the idea of whipless horse-training, as much as the idea of female jockeys like herself competing against men.

The charismatic Monty Roberts is much in demand around the world for help with thoroughbreds showing remedial tendencies. But owners and others still see him as something of a curiosity for such bizarre ideas by owners and riders. His reputation as a horse-whisperer works both for him and against him in the campaign for pain-free horse training.

At Cheltenham, the debate was rekindled with advocates of banning the whip including former champion jockey Johnnie Francome, now a racing pundit and best-selling author who probably dislikes being described as a sort of Dick Francis. Francome argued that a month’s trial would demonstrate that racing could be as exciting, as demanding of skill, as fast, and less stressful to the horses. He also admits that as a jockey ten years ago he would have been opposed to it, and that almost all the jockeys will go on opposing it until they tried out racing without whips. He mutters darkly about the dinosaurs in charge of the sport.

Meanwhile, at the Jurassic headquarters of horse racing, plans are being examined for whips that can not cause such evident after-effects on horses. (‘Pain-free whips’?).

Implications

Implications for organizational leaders are clear. Our posts have suggested how bullying by dictatorial methods can be one way to produce nodding donkeys in organisations or in political cadres.

The same level of intensity of debate whirls around issues of bullying, and the rights of parents to smack children (abuse, or a valuable aid to discipline and development?).

Francome’s suggestion of a trial period of whip-free racing seems sensible, but probably too dangerous a threat to established thinking to be a favourite runner at the moment.