My Daily Thought yesterday about the Blair’s Fundamental, Leadership Error has triggered a lot of comments in social media. Most of them have nothing to do with Blair’s Fundamental Leadership Error, and recreate the discussions about geopolitics and the internal UK politics. This is how I replied to some of those comments and you’ll see why I am bringing those topic again.
As much as I love the comments on the geopolitics of the region, the calls to the Police and the ins and outs of the British politics at the time, my point was about The Fundamental Error: The Great Man Theory in action, the old fashion messianic view of Leadership that M Blair has (even today) and the ‘it’s my decision, my problem, my burden’. The Fundamental Error is first his, and second of everybody reinforcing it: (1) The cabinet. I don’t buy the idea that Mr Blair was so secretive that did not let others come into the Headmaster room. Every time Claire Shot blames Blair of secrecy, she is blaming herself of incompetence. (2) The rest of the choreography: civil servants, the Spooks, the parliament, the party. Were they all mesmerized by the Messianic Powers of Blair? By not reacting, they reinforced The Great Man Theory. Were they misled? Sure: highly intelligent, well paid, societal leaders swallowing non credible stuff? I prefer to see this as a massive Groupthink than sheer passivity. The latter would be unforgivable. The former, I can understand as collective stupidity. It has happened before. Remember the Bahia de Cochinos in Cuba? For every minute we talk about Blair, we miss not just the point but thousand points. He thinks it’s about him, it’s not. Others think the same because it represents a massive societal alibi. Let’s stop talking about Blair if we want to talk about just war, international law and tragic geopolitical game change. But let’s talk Blair if we want to talk leadership.
A stream of comments in social media have continued sine. Most of them have little to say about the ‘Error’, personalization. Many continue on the pure political side. OK. A few, very interesting, say I miss the point because (a) Blair has apologized (in 2016! first time) and (b) because this is how leaders learn (quite frankly I am not interested in how Blair learns). Other comments are kind of annoyed about extrapolating to business. Are we supposed to be different? Apparently yes. Bad idea.
Lessons for us in organizations (apologies to he ones who think we live in a business school bubble) are still the same: for every time we talk about the qualities (or lack of ) of a particular CEO, we are missing thousand points about how the organization functions. It’s not about him/her. ‘It’s about us’, that should be the slogan. Stop looking up, look sideways.
My problem? I kept talking about Mr Blair whilst asking people to forget the man and look at the flawed principle of the ‘in-good-faith-my-shoulders-and-the-burden-of-history’.
The leadership topic on the table continues to be the inadequacy of 19th Century ‘Great Man Theory’ concept of history.