EGO AND NAR­CIS­SISM RULE

But not all is lost, as Merkel and the young lead­ers of France and Canada show the kind of lead­er­ship the world needs now

Financial Mail - - AT HOME & ABROAD - @jus­tice­malala by Jus­tice Malala

Well, that was quick. The end of so­called “ser­vant lead­er­ship”, I mean. Re­mem­ber just a few years ago when ev­ery­one was talk­ing about how we were all go­ing to aban­don the ego and em­brace a phi­los­o­phy in which lead­ers aimed to serve?

Those were the days! My friends with high-pow­ered cor­po­rate jobs would re­gale me with sto­ries about their bosses.

“Me, me, me,” one of them told me, de­scrib­ing his CEO’S gen­eral state of mind, at home and at the of­fice. “It’s all about him.”

Then the trans­for­ma­tion af­ter the boss spent a few weeks on a lead­er­ship course: “Oh my, the man is the Dalai Lama now!”

It was amaz­ing. Po­lit­i­cal lead­ers across the globe were seen walk­ing around read­ing Nel­son Man­dela’s

Long Walk To Free­dom, try­ing to be­come as saintly as the great man. Tech CEOS lis­tened in­tently to the words of peo­ple like for­mer US pres­i­dent Barack Obama and nod­ded sagely about an in­clu­sive new world.

It hasn’t lasted. The ego and nar­cis­sism are back. We are see­ing toxic lead­er­ship all over the place, from Rus­sia to the US, from Brazil to Hun­gary.

So, few of you who keep the econ­omy go­ing will be sur­prised by the ac­tions of the CEOS of many of our com­pa­nies. You’ve prob­a­bly seen some pretty toxic busi­ness lead­ers in your time. Like those odious Stein­hoff char­ac­ters, for ex­am­ple. Or those from VBS Mu­tual Bank.

In pol­i­tics, just take our good friend Vladimir Putin of Rus­sia for a great ex­am­ple of ego and tox­i­c­ity. He is well known for re­leas­ing pic­tures of him­self — bare-chested, rid­ing a horse; in scuba gear; car­ry­ing a ri­fle with a scope; or tak­ing down an op­po­nent in mar­tial arts. He is the man: James Bond and Napoleon rolled into one.

In 2013 he gave a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view. But not just any old in­ter­view: this one lasted four hours and 47 min­utes, beat­ing his pre­vi­ous best by 15 min­utes. His pro­pa­ganda ma­chine hailed it a huge suc­cess. I sus­pect most Rus­sians fell asleep. He also de­tains po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists and bumps off jour­nal­ists.

Last week was Thanks­giv­ing here in the US. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was asked what he wanted to give thanks for. He replied: “For hav­ing a great fam­ily and for hav­ing made a tremen­dous dif­fer­ence in this coun­try. I’ve made a tremen­dous dif­fer­ence in the coun­try. This coun­try is so much stronger now than it was when I took of­fice that you wouldn’t be­lieve it.” He wasn’t go­ing to wait for any­one to praise him. Heck no, not our Don­ald. He was go­ing to sing his own praises. He con­tin­ued: “Peo­ple can’t even be­lieve it. When I see for­eign lead­ers, they say we can­not be­lieve the dif­fer­ence in strength be­tween the US now and the US two years ago … Made a lot of progress.”

Ho hum. This is a very long way from the day Man­dela stood on the bal­cony of Cape Town City Hall in Fe­bru­ary 1990 and said: “I stand here be­fore you not as a prophet but as a hum­ble ser­vant of you, the peo­ple. Your tire­less and heroic sac­ri­fices have made it pos­si­ble for me to be here to­day.

“I there­fore place the re­main­ing years of my life in your hands.”

If it was Trump on that bal­cony he would have told the crowd to bow and scrape be­fore him and be grate­ful. Or some­thing along those lines. So where shall the world look, these days, for lead­er­ship?

Not all is lost. In­creas­ingly, it is Ger­many and peo­ple such as An­gela Merkel, or the young lead­ers of France and Canada, who are show­ing the kind of lead­er­ship the world needs right now.

Last week Ger­many an­nounced that it will stop all arms sales to Saudi Ara­bia and ban the 18 Saudi sus­pects linked to the mur­der of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi from en­ter­ing the 26 coun­tries in the Schen­gen zone. Trump, on the other hand, re­fused to con­demn Saudi Ara­bia or its king. Tells you some­thing, doesn’t it?

We’re a long way from Man­dela’s ‘not as a prophet but as a hum­ble ser­vant of you, the peo­ple’

123Rf/ge­off Leighly/sri Pu­jianti

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.