Monday, August 27, 2018

Myopic understandings of leadership and its functioning are pervasive

Commentaries and reactions to the recent failed internal 'coup' within the ruling coalition government in Australia makes it all too clear that pathological views of leadership are widespread.  The mistaken and pervasive belief that a 'good leader' or a 'wise leader' or more commonly a 'powerful leader' who keeps it simple can fix our broken governance systems is alarming. It was thus refreshing to see Pat Campbell's cartoon on Leadership in The Age this morning.

In the same edition damming critiques of what had been variously described as an 'insurgency', 'a coup' or 'an insurrection' have come from former coalition senator Amanda Vanstone and former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.  Here is a flavour:

"Politics has its share of these types. People who just want it their way all the time. And when that doesn’t happen they eat resentment for breakfast and dine on revenge. They put themselves ahead of the team. Always.

That’s been known about this little band, and it is little, for a long time. But now they’ve shown that this bitter diet has been like a cancer to their competence. They are seen as, among other things, inept and reckless and foolish. Their colleagues see it. The public sees it. It takes a special kind of stupidity to organise a coup that you don’t win, in a sitting week and in a government with a majority of one. If you can’t read the numbers in a small party room how can you read what’s happening out in the real world?"   Amanda Vanstone.

"Abbott has never cared about policy. He has only cared about politics and winning at any cost. I cannot remember a single positive policy initiative that Abbott has championed and then implemented. Not one. As a result, unconstrained by policy, the entire energy of this giant wrecking ball of Australian politics has been focussed on destroying his opponents - within the Labor Party and the Liberal Party. Of all modern politicians, Abbott is sui generis. His singular, destructive impact on national politics cannot be underestimated...........................

Murdoch is also a political bully and a thug who for many years has hired bullies as his editors. The message to Australian politicians is clear: either toe the line on what Murdoch wants or he kills you politically."  Kevin Rudd

Both Vanstone and Rudd begin to approach some of the main reasons why our governance systems are failing, but they do not go nearly far enough in their analysis and identification of options for change.  In all the reportage over the last week the only article I have seen that begins a deeper form of analysis was by Dave Sharma. Sharma has an interesting history - and has just returned from four years as Australia's ambassador to Israel. He has, no less, been touted as a possible candidate for the Liberals in the seat of Wentworth in the forthcoming by-election to replace Malcolm Turnbull.  Given his analysis of the state of our governance systems one would have to question his rationale for joining the highly dysfunctional Liberal party.  Or perhaps he feels he can bring insights from watching, at close quarters, the systemic failings of Israel's espoused democracy?

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