Leadership of the Angry

We live in strange times, particularly in the political sense. We are undergoing a period of upheaval and, for many, upheaval and change instigate fear. That is a perfectly normal and human reaction to facing the unknown. It is only when we look back that we can see events calmly and with a level of introspection not readily accessed by our minds when confronted with something new, something scary. It is at times such as these where leaders need to be calming influences, continually dampening the sparks of hyperbole; hyperbole that is often hysterical and driven by an alternative agenda.

Don’t you just yearn for leadership that you can trust? When I look at the leaders of all the political parties today in Scotland and, indeed the UK, they seem always to be angry. They shout at each other across the chamber, hurl insults, name call and then deny any wrongdoing.

Don’t you yearn for leadership that smiles, that gathers people together rather than tearing them apart? Should leadership not be about kindness, respect and acknowledging that opponents’ views may be viable?

Educators spend so much time discussing with students the importance of hard work, of the importance of developing a highly ethical non-elitist view of the world in which we live and yet those who should be the role models for the future generations seem to be anything but. Of course, I accept that all generalisations are wrong but I really yearn for a politician to appear to be more human, more honest. For someone in power to one day say, ‘You know, you might be right; perhaps I need to rethink this.’

I might be compelled to vote for someone that spoke in that way. It seems to me to have been a very long time since any leader has spoken in that manner…

And yet, our society, and particularly our media, often drive our leadership to act in this way. As individuals and as a society, we often see failure or making mistakes as a calamity to be avoided at all costs. We live in a world that automatically points the finger of blame. We live in a world that is, perhaps, somewhat less forgiving than used to be the case.

And yet admitting fault is immensely liberating – even when every instinct and sinew in our body is telling us to divert attention away from our own errors. Try it the next time something goes wrong. Put your hands up and say, ‘That was my fault. I got that terribly wrong and I’m sorry.’ In most scenarios, our mistakes are less important than we believe them to be at the time. After all, being open to mistakes, indeed embracing them, allows us to learn.

Perhaps I’m just a dreamer, but I hope that one day someone will lead our country in a manner befitting that role. And in so doing, our young will have someone to whom they can truly look up to and aspire to be like.

Integrity and decency begets integrity and decency.

Rod Grant