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Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Distracted from Learning

Another student managed to get in the news after being suspended for highlights in her hair: “Other students are distracted from learning”

What really distracts from learning is the stupidity of “adult” bureaucrats running schools.

Any thoughts? Or are you too to distracted?



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Narcissistic Leadership

Narcissism is an unpleasant personality trait—yet one that seems particularly prevalent in our time.

I was thinking this as I reflected on a world of Facebook and other social media and their ‘look at me’ ethos. A world where people seem quite comfortable spending their time taking endless pictures of themselves… the so called ’selfie’.

The Encarta online dictionary defines narcissism as excessive self-admiration and self-centeredness. You have to extrapolate this a little bit further when considering narcissistic leaders. They will have only one priority in the way in which they run things.

Themselves.

I thought I might have invented the term ‘narcissistic leadership’ (which is a bit narcissistic of me!) but a quick look at Wikipedia proves me wrong. Apparently Linda L. Neider and Chester A. Schriesheim in their 2010 publication ‘The Dark Side of Management” already defined narcissistic leadership as being driven by ‘unyielding arrogance, self-absorption and a personal egotistic need for power and admiration.’

Other commentators on the phenomenon of narcissistic leadership include Neville Symington who writes in ‘Narcissism: A New Theory’ that ‘one of the ways of differentiating a good-enough organization from one that is pathological is through its ability to exclude narcissistic characters from key posts.’

Mr Symington is definitely on to something here. If I visit your company and find some narcissistic tendencies at senior management level then I know something fundamental will have to change if things are to improve.

So, are you a narcissistic leader, surrounding yourself with nodding cronies and focused on your own self-aggrandizement? Well… we all know what happened to the original Narcissus, don’t we.

Careful you don’t drown admiring your own reflection.


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When Too Big To Fail Is Too Small

HP made the news this week for selling cloud services to Deutsche Bank.

Anthem made the news for their involuntary sharing of SSN, income data and—one has to assume—health data.

Take a deep breath and read the first paragraph again.

Doesn’t it make you feel uncomfortable to read about those companies that insist on getting more and more personal data to perform even the smallest of service—yet can’t don’t protect anything?

How long until we hear about the even bigger cloud breach?

And if you are too big to fail—how much of your fucking shit is covered up—because those cover ups “leaders” don’t like to stink?


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Health

Many of the blog entries on this website relate to health. And when I say ‘health’ I am thinking of its broadest definition. The WHO (World Health Organization) is helpful here, defining health in 1948 as: ‘… a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’

I think it’s fair to say that life is not as enjoyable if health is compromised. So it must also be fair to say that our health should be a priority for those who lead us.

However, a report out in the UK analyzing drug prescription patterns suggests that if health is among the ambitions of our political, corporate and other leaders, then they are failing miserably.

Researchers found that:
  • 50% of women and 43% of men in England had taken at least one prescribed medicine in the week before interview
  • 24% of women and 22% of men had taken at least three prescribed medicines in the week before interview
  • 18.7 prescription medicines were dispensed per head of population on average in 2013
  • Nearly 20% of women in economically deprived areas took antidepressants.

Some commentators have said that this isn’t necessarily all bad news. Some of the drugs taken reflect an aging population (people are living longer) and the fact that medicines are now available which tackle previously untreatable conditions or which do things like lower cholesterol (statins).

I accept that. But I am shocked that the UK’s healthcare system (the National Health Service) has a cost from its total £100bn budget of £15bn on prescribed drugs.

I am also shocked by the fact that the report found 11% of women on antidepressants. This surely reflects a society and culture where people do not have the education… or culture… or time and money… or incentives and motivation to fulfill their potential and - at a more basic level - to eat and exercise properly. A society which puts value on the wrong things, like material wealth rather than spiritual well-being.

This is something all leaders need to think about. Otherwise, what’s the point?


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The 7 Sins

Lust:An intense desire for money, fame and power.
Gluttony:Over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.
Greed:Excessive pursuit of material possessions.
Sloth:A failure to do the things you should be doing.
Wrath:Inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.
Envy:Desire for the things others have.
Pride:Belief that you are better than others and a failure to acknowledge others’ accomplishments.

The seven deadly sins may date back to 14th century theological teachings and writings… but giving them modern definitions with the help of Wikipedia, I cite them here wondering how many business, religious and political leaders could claim that they were without sin(!).

Self-knowledge is, I believe, a wonderful thing. Any leader who can properly analyze themselves and determine what truly motivates them and informs the decisions they make can improve their leadership skills.

So… consider your current priorities… and audit them against the seven deadly sins. You might want to rethink any that you suspect may be driven by motives other than those in the best interests of your company, your staff and your customers.

Oh… and while on the subject, you might want to visit the seven deadly sins the next time you’re trying to understand the less helpful conduct exhibited by members of your staff or team.

And to try a different tack when trying to move them away from that behavior!


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Corruption.

The Encarta online dictionary defines this as ‘dishonest exploitation of power for personal gain’.

I looked it up because I wanted a precise concept in mind as I read of Transparency International’s ‘Corruption Perceptions Index 2013′, which seeks to measure public sector corruption. To quote from Transparency International’s website:

“The Index scores 177 countries and territories on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). No country has a perfect score and two thirds of countries score below 50.”

They go on to say that:

“The world urgently needs a renewed effort to crack down on money laundering, clean up political finance, pursue the return of stolen assets and build more transparent public institutions.”

Transparency International’s report takes a global ‘macro’ look at the problem of corruption, of course. I find myself considering the issue on a more micro scale.

Consider the definition I began this blog entry with. How many of us have come across leaders or managers who have favored certain employees over others? Most of us I suspect.

Those leaders were/still are corrupt.

And how many of us have come across leaders with one rule for themselves and a different rule for everyone else in terms of expenses claims… or bonuses… or remuneration packages… or nepotism…

Those leaders were/still are corrupt.

It’s about a person’s values and about morality… and unless it’s dealt with at this micro level, then we have no chance at the macro level.

I will close this blog entry with another quote from the Transparency International website:
“Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone who depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.”

You can see Transparency International’s ‘Corruption Perceptions Index 2013′ at http://www.transparency.org/cpi2013/results external.

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Money, Money, Money!

Here’s some statistics for you courtesy of the World Economic Forum which took place in Switzerland at the beginning of this year.
  • the wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
  • the bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
  • seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years
  • in the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

The Davos report says that wealth concentration on the few can lead to undue and undemocratic influence on government policy making.

In other words, the rich will make sure that statutes are contrived to ensure they remain wealthy.

Some way back on this blog I argued that world population growth was the biggest threat facing humanity. I have to say that income disparity is surely up there as a major issue.

Social and political unrest arise (Ferguson and its aftermath) in no small measure from income disparity… leading to repression, civil wars, international warfare, refugees… and dare I say it, acting as a recruitment sergeant for organizations that readily attract the disaffected.

The threat of Ebola also has its roots in economic unfairness. Companies that control the development of new drugs saw little profit in developing treatments for people in Africa who could not afford them. Now we have a big problem.

Leadership required please… and a massive change in global attitudes to wealth distribution.


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Scottish Independence

I try to be apolitical in this blog—and hopefully at the end of this entry you will still consider me so.

But something happening on the other side of the ‘pond’ has caught my eye.

I am grateful to Wikipedia for the following information:

In the 2009 US Community Census Survey, 6.85 million Americans self-identified as having solely Scottish ancestry. 27.5 million Americans reported Scottish ancestry either alone, or in combination with another nationality.

I wonder how many of these have on their radar the fact that a referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country will take place on 18th September 2014.

All residents in Scotland aged over 16 can vote. They will be asked a simple question.

‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’

Now as you can imagine, there have been campaigns… arguments… and all the other elements that go along with elections.

But to me it comes down to one thing.

In a world which seems as divided, threatening and lacking in civilized behavior as ever… shouldn’t we all resist any drive to create division where there currently isn’t any? I am not saying that we merge into one amorphous mass of humanity with no regard for individual cultures. Of course not. But if mankind is to survive then we need cohesion, not separation… more collaboration and less individualism.

What do you think?


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