We examine the present in light of the past
so as to better understand the future.
John Maynard Keynes

* With apologies to Karl von Clausewitz

Out of the mouths of babes: what children think of leadership

Out of the mouths of babes, wisdom comes. Actually, these weren’t babes as such; they were children from a primary school aged from five to eleven. They were asked to come up with three words that would describe a leader, and were encouraged to sit with their eyes closed in order to think hard about the words they would choose. Here are the words and phrases they came up with:

‘Bossy’
‘Big’
‘Tall’
‘Strong’
‘Funny’
‘Kind’
‘Hard-going’
‘Fat’
‘Loyal’
‘In control’
‘Determined and caring’
‘Strict and miserable’
‘A lot of power’
‘Despotic and psychotic.’ This pupil was thinking particularly of Vladimir Putin. Tough luck, Vlad; even children don’t like you.

And how is this for a definition of leadership? This pupil, musing on experience as a former captain of a rugby team, said that as leader they ‘had to do what you expect other people to do.’

There’s not really much more to be said, is there?
 

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Another one bites the dust - reflecting on my new book on management failures
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