Last week I had the opportunity to go and see F.W. De Klerk speak about the end of apartheid and the importance of leadership – something that Kate Griffiths-Lambeth covers in wonderful detail here. I then went to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the weekend.
De Klerk spoke at some length about how the requirement of leadership is to stand for something, – not to just play back to the people what they want to hear in order to get yourself elected. It is an important distinction and a complicated one – is it arrogant to suggest that sometimes the leader will be in the best position to see what is best for the people? Is the essence of democracy enshrining of choice – or the enshrining of the choice of a leader? Since principles seem to shift over time how do you stand up for them?
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was great fun and one of the songs elaborated on what it took to be a great con man
“Give them want they want. Smooth and easy.”
So much of the content that we read is so similar to other content that it is hard to pick out
- who is trying to make a point
- who thinks in the same way as other people
- who is just trying to sound ‘on message’ and give the people what they want
I’m pretty sure someone who has never worked in HR could read a few blogs/’thought leadership’ pieces and cobble them together into something that would get a good reception.
Top topics seem to be
- Isn’t the recruitment experience a bit pants?
- Aren’t performance reviews a bit pants?
- Isn’t HR a bit pants?
- Isn’t classroom training a bit pants?
- Don’t we have too much policy?
- Shouldn’t we have more diversity?
- Is x dead? (where x = engagement/thought leadership/ROI as required)
- Shouldn’t we all use technology more?
- Remote working is a good thing isn’t it?
- Isn’t command and control a bit too commanding and controlling?
- Isn’t Big Data an opportunity/a pathway to a dystopian future?
Maybe writing those is giving the people what they want? Maybe some of us are unwitting con artists and some of us are intentional con artists. Plenty of us will say we don’t write for the stats – but I bet not many of us would write if nobody read or responded.
Maybe being unpopular is a sign of genuine leadership. Maybe the best thought leadership out there is so unpalatable or progressive that it doesn’t register, as it doesn’t fit into one of the categories above.
I’ve written posts on most of the topics above, so this is a reflection rather than a pop at other people. What would leadership in this space look like? Or is ‘social’, by its nature, more about collaboration than genuine creation?
How can you tell someone exploring a topic from a stats hungry Dirty Rotten Blogger? How can you tell a thought leader from a thought leecher?
Would it make any difference if you could?
I don’t know who’ll want this post, but thanks to Mervyn Dinnen for the nudge