Business and life - "things are not always as they seem!"

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Thursday, 25 February 2010

Gordon Brown - an apology for a Prime Minister

Government apology
Gordon Brown has apologised for the UK's role in sending thousands of children, under the Child Migrants Programme which ended 40 years ago, to former colonies where many ended up in institutions or as labourers on farms. He said he was apologising on behalf of the Government.
Brown certainly has a lot to apologise for, but he and the current Government have no responsibility, no right, no culpability, no need to apologise for something that was done by others in history. It is far too easy for him and his colleagues to appear humble and humane by "apologising" for the sins and wrongs of others, just as it was for his lying predecessor who "apologised" for the slave trade, the Irish famine and goodness knows what else besides.

Real apologies
Such a display of crocodile tears only removes any integrity these people ever had, in the light of their repeated failure to apologise for the current wickednesses for which they personally are glaringly responsible.

At the Chilcot enquiry Geoff Hoon refused to apologise, Jack Straw refused to apologise, Tony Blair refused to apologise and in his upcoming appearance, it is highly likely that Gordon Brown will adopt the same unrepentant stance. And the conflict for which they are culpably responsible, as confirmed by Jack Straw himself, has cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Why don't Brown and his henchmen also take the current opportunity and apologise to the families of the 400 people who died through lack of care at Stafford hospital?

I know how this works
This PM "with the moral compass" will never apologise for anything for which he is directly responsible. In 2060 the presiding PM at that time will apologise unreservedly to the Iraqi people and to the British soldiers who were sent to Iraq to fight and die in the early part of the 21st century. Easy peasy.
In 2060 it will be just as empty a gesture as are today's nauseating, maudlin, meaningless, faux-apology displays of Brown and Blair.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

"A future fair for all"

Fair for all?
Am I the only one who feels that their intelligence is being insulted with Labour's campaign theme for the upcoming election?
Maybe it shouldn't matter, because in this neck of the woods of course we cannot vote for them or agin them, but on every news bulletin we will be forced to listen to earnest self-serving expenses cheats lecturing us on how Labour will create this "future fair for all". This is a bit rich coming from the geniuses who created our "past and current free for all" that is currently ruining the competitive capability of Northern Ireland and the wider UK.

All together now!
I have a better idea for their campaign refrain, and this has a much better chance of being delivered. Plus it has a cracking good tune!

"In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
There's a land that's fair and bright
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep round ev'ry night
Where the workshops are all empty
And the sun shines ev'ry day
Oh, I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

Oh, the buzzin' of the bees in the peppermint trees
'Round the soda water fountains
Where the lemonade springs and the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains"

Whose idea was it to give him that new smile?
I can just see Gordon singing it with that newly manufactured gruesome X -factor smile on his face.

Message to the PM
Gordon, life is not, never has been and never will be "fair". And certainly not "fair for all", because one person's fairness is another person's oppression. For example.

Is it fair that public sector workers are paid 40% more than those in the private sector?
Is it fair that while not all those on benefit are there by choice, many are.
Is it fair that your government colludes with thousands of "economically inactive" shirkers who choose not to work while laying the burden for their support on hard working people?
I could go on and on.

A future fair for all?
Fact - life is not fair. This Labour promise sounds very like "the buzzin of the bees".
The best hope for Gordon, and not an entirely unlikely one at that, is that Cameron's crowd pick an even more unrealistic and patronising theme.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Charisma as your X-factor in Leadership

Charisma and "goodness" - Mandela?
Charisma, or in common parlance the X-factor - a personal attractiveness or interestingness that enables one to influence others - is an attribute we apply to high profile figures like JFK, Barack Obama, Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, Nelson Mandela and Meg Whitman, generally with a positive spin.

Charisma and "badness" - Hitler?
But charisma is not the sole preserve of popular individuals. This powerful leadership characteristic is also possessed by controversial figures such as Michael O'Leary, Tony Blair and from earlier times Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill. While deeply unpopular in many quarters, they used their powerful charismatic personae in the achievement of resounding leadership successes.

Values and ethics
Charisma, like money, is in itself neither good nor bad; but this powerful X-factor can be used to extraordinary effect by good and bad people towards good or bad ends. The guiding constraint at all times is the set of values and ethics to which the charismatic leader subscribes. By all means be attracted, but always be careful to examine the values before you sign up as a follower.

Born or made?
As most references to charisma are anecdotal and intuitive rather than being based on real science, a myth has grown that charisma is a "divine gift", possessed only by those who are born to lead. If we have not been equipped with it at birth, well, there is no point in trying to aquire it. This is a massive error.

Charisma implants
The truth is that charisma can be learned, aquired and developed. It is a prize worth having, as research consistently shows that charismatic, enthusiastic, exciting team players are generally much more successful in business, political and organisational leadership than mundane low-key plodders.
Those of us who aspire to lead should polish the charismatic skill as carefully as, say, the skill of emotional intelligence. Neglect of this key area does a disservice to those we are charged with leading and under-optimises our personal potential. Is our neglect due to false modesty or laziness?

"Tall poppy" reluctance
For various reasons, many of us are reluctant to admit that we would even consider making any attempt to polish or enhance our charisma. Why?
Aspiration towards greater charisma is often interpreted as crass self-promotion
Training courses in charisma, where they exist at the moment, are widely advertised as "magic" and "fun" and do suffer from more than a flavour of "release the giant within" and walking on hot coals hocus pocus, despite their possible benefit as an enjoyable day out
Leaders such as Hitler, Jim Jones, David Koresh and Charles Manson have misused their charismatic gifts to the great detriment of their followers and mankind in general
Many will identify with my own experience where two of the CEOs for whom I have worked were highly charismatic, but were at the same time manipulative bullies. Absolute horrors on occasion
Some people who think themselves charismatic are really just oleaginous insincere fakers
Currently, training in charisma has no quantitative science at its base, no measurement and no clearly definable business outcomes
Assessment of the attribute is generally superficial and based on unweighted pop-quiz questionnaires.

MIT can now measure the power of charisma
The Harvard Business Review recently reported on MIT Professor Alex Pentland's ground-breaking research on measuring the power of charisma in business dealings.
The MIT Human Dynamics Lab "outfitted executives at a party with devices that recorded data on their social signals - tone of voice, gesticulation, proximity to others, and more. Five days later the same executives presented business plans to a panel of judges in a contest. Without reading or hearing the pitches, Pentland correctly forecasted the winners, using only data collected at the party"

Further research
Now we all know that a business plan, however good, doth not alone a business make; Professor Pentland's further research aims to refine measurements that will enable clearer definition of the social and behavioural attributes required for the enhancement of effective business charisma.
When the work of the MIT Human Dynamics Lab on charisma is fully validated, serious executives will be able to target the specific signals they can develop for the enhancement of their charisma, unique attractiveness and ability to influence all with whom they come in contact.

Dangerous illusions
80% of us think we are above average in driving ability; it may be the case that as business managers we suffer from similar illusions with regard to our personal charismatic X-factor and business effectiveness. This research has enormous possibilities for good in the fields of enterprise and organisational competitive advantage.

Want to know more?
I intend to explore this important research further with MIT. If you would like an update on progress, drop me an email to and I will keep you posted.

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