Mongrel, not pedigree, leaders needed now

Is there something rotten at the heart of UK (and G7/ EU) leadership quite apart from the lack of good measures and productivity knowhow with which they manage their economies?

Indeed, why are their economies apparently so sclerotic these days, especially the UK despite their track record for empire building, starting the Industrial Revolution and vibrant energy and creativity for producing vast numbers of useful ideas, inventions and innovations?

The most important driver of performance at any level, organisational or national, is the quality of the top managers – the Boards of Directors, especially the CEO, or the cabinet of ministers, especially the Prime Minister

But where do these leaders come from:

  • In the UK, the Tory party is dominated by Oxbridge graduates and/ or the privately educated – the Labour party by either closet Marxists or claret drinking/ cigar smoking (behind closed doors) intellectuals
  • Most major companies and business organisations seem to be run by ex McKinsey consultants – again, a worthy source, but how come just that one?
  • Most professions also recruit by fishing in exclusive pools – the legal profession, for example, take outrageous amounts of time to complete many cases and even restrict numbers who can practise to maintain their high fee rates – the result is the great majority of the population cannot afford their services or cannot afford to wait – a ‘Big Bang’ as revolutionised the City is urgently needed here
  • Even many sports suffer the same way, the hoi polloi kept at bay by the cost of the gear and/ or animals needed or most free schools not even playing their games e.g. rugby, rowing, eventing or polo


All up, this means some 80% of the UK is being led by the other 20%, a heavily skewed and unrepresentative cross-section of the whole

The fact is that, whatever colour or gender we are, (apparently) we’re all descended from the same few people so nature means we all kick off with much the same brainpower and operating systems (instincts, subconscious etc.) – it’s the quality of nurture that’s seen as the differentiator between the ‘great and good’ and the rest

But, when leaders emerge from relatively small elitist pools, they end up living in their own bubbles, groupthink takes hold and debating halls become mere echo chambers – meanwhile, original thinking or devil’s advocacy gets frowned upon, even silenced, so change is off the agenda

Leaders that emerge then have limited views about what’s going on in the big wide world and what the people they lead are bothered about – hence the big surprise at Westminster when the UK voted for Brexit or the weasel words which followed the Grenfell Tower fire disaster given no person responsible for the residents there had ever visited the place

Leaders are paid and live well – they mix only with their own kind – inevitably, they end up with a rosy but blinkered view of the world outside yet they, and they alone, have the power to decide on all key matters which determine how well the rest live – the people whom they exclude from their ranks

The result is the nation denies itself a vast amount of fresh thinking, new ideas, exciting plans and energetic action – instead, we’re currently fed with a boring and repetitive diet of the same old dull and dry stuff

The remedy is to open up these closed shops and enable the full spectrum of the nation’s talent to join them – they’re not social clubs for a select few to enjoy but teams of the very best to enhance the well-being of everyone

This means they need major transfusions of new blood, and therein lies the rub – those in situ will and do resist for they have much to lose

Hence, we end up relying on a few maverick cage-rattlers who arise from our midst and break through these glass ceilings – people like Nigel Farage who led the splendid Brexit campaign – note how all major UK political parties despise him and are delighted that his UKIP now seems destined for the dustbin of history – likewise, President Donald Trump, another non-establishment figure who rocks many boats despite what his establishment colleagues recommend – but they’re rare exceptions, not the norm

Meanwhile, the UK and G7 economies stumble along, top business leaders lose sleep worrying about lack of demand and growth, top economists puzzle over the ‘productivity puzzle’ whilst government ministers offer little new and exciting which might energise their electorates

It’s the latest example of in-breeding writ large

Once, 1% of the nation – royalty, aristocracy and landed gentry – ruled over the other 99%, the peasant serfs – and look what in-breeding has done for them

Now, there’s a new royalty in charge – a select group of leaders (20%) who rule over the rest (80%), the followers

This trend is unstoppable as good communications and education become increasingly available to all – indeed, deference has already all but disappeared as people know to applaud merit rather than birth-right

Soon, it may well be that the majority 80% rule over and look after the minority 20%

All one can say, at this stage, is the sooner the better for most of us


1 comment

    • Tamsin Stanley on 25 August 2017 at 10:17 AM
    • Reply

    Taking the same pejorative tone of criticism and generalisation you use in this blog, perhaps a majority of those who attend state schools lack the necessary selflessness to consider standing as Members of Parliament – given the relatively poor rewards for hard work and long hours, and the clear propensity to attract brickbats.

    A majority of those who attend private schools feel similarly disinclined.

    To counter the widespread unwillingness of a self-serving majority to put themselves forward for Parliament, and to embrace the thankless task of Government, perhaps we need to appreciate and praise our elected politicians a little more, and try to make public service appear a rather more attractive option than is currently the case.

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