The Self-Proclaimed Saviours will never save you since their only intent is their personal success. It happens in society and politics, and it happens in organizations.
Self-Proclaimed Saviours love problems. Without them, how could they save anybody. They love them so much, and they need them so much, that they create them if they don’t exist.
In my previous corporate life, one of my senior colleagues who was a Self-Proclaimed Saviour, was very explicit about this: ‘let them fail’, he used to say, referring to some obvious wrong path taken or decisions of project teams charged with attaining goals worth millions.
Self-Proclaimed Saviours are also very good at withholding information or being economic with the truth. They excel at making themselves indispensable in the system by being the ones who have all the pieces of the puzzle.
Self-Proclaimed Saviours are at home at the Mar-A-Lago School of Deconstruction of the Institutional Fabric. In that school, you learn how to show, painstakingly, that the fabric is rotten so that a substitute must be created by the Saviour, on behalf of ‘the people’, or to save ‘the people’, that is. If that entails the fabrication of ‘alternative facts’ and old fashion propaganda, without even the need for a Ministry of that, well, so be it, that is what is needed.
I have come to believe that many Self-Proclaimed Saviours don’t lie, despite the fact that they can express and defend the most outrageous things. The definition of a lie includes ‘intentional untruth’, ‘deliberate intent to deceive’. But Self-Proclaimed Saviours often believe what they want and need to believe. Truth or lie for them is neither here nor there.
We are not different in organizational life. Our own Mar-A-Lago approach to life hosts a fair number of gratuitous reorganizations which sole purpose is to show that A was bad and B solves the problem. A, needed to be saved, and a new leader does that. That is leadership. OK?
Self-Proclaimed Saviours have a hard time when shown the precarious nature of their supposed indispensability. That even the best Self-Proclaimed Saviours end up in the cemetery, a place according to General Charles De Gaulle ‘full of indispensable people’.
I think that Self-Proclaimed Saviours deserve a Day in the calendar, a dedicated Feast. I propose that to be Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Christian tradition, before all the fasting and ‘moderation’ starts. On that day, particularly in the Catholic Church, there is an old ritual which involves rubbing ashes on one’s forehead, whilst the priest says ‘Memento, homo quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris. That is, ‘remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return’.
But, for the Self-Proclaimed Saviours, I would definitely say it in Latin.
For more thoughts on Leadership, you can purchase my latest book…..
Camino Leadership Notes on the Road
This is a collection of notes on leadership, initially written as Daily Thoughts, which started years ago as a way of talking to himself. Camino, the Spanish for road, or way, reflects on leadership as a praxis that continuously evolves. Nobody is ever a leader. Becoming one is the real quest. But we never reach the destination. Our character is constantly shaped by places and journeys, encounters and experiences. The only real theory of leadership is travelling. The only footprints, our actions. The only test, what we leave behind.
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You can now read extracts from Chapter 1.