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Inspirational Leaders

In my experience most people aren’t very impressed with their leaders. Actually, in New Zealand we have a rather exceptional situation at the moment because our prime minister, John Key, is quite well liked. I’m not really sure why this is, it must be more because of his “nice, normal guy” image rather than what he’s doing because I see no reason to get too inspired by his government’s performance so far. Anyway, apart from the PM I don’t see a lot of respect for other leaders.

The biggest problem, I think, is that so many of them indulge in a lot of “do as I say, not as I do” type of behaviour. In other words they are hypocritical and not very moral.

A classic example of hypocrisy occurred here recently when self-styled “perk buster” Rodney Hide was caught ripping off the taxpayer as badly as any of the people he’s had the temerity to criticise in the past. He took his girlfriend on an expensive overseas trip to investigate issues related to his area of responsibility (which ironically includes more efficient use of public funds by local authorities). So the taxpayer spent $25,000 on a single trip for her and more for him.

If he was genuinely interested in more reasonable use of taxpayer funds he would try to find a cheaper way to gather that information. Electronic communications provide very reasonable alternatives to actual travel now, and if he was going he should pay for taking his friends and family himself. Avoiding travel would also reduce his carbon footprint, but I guess since he is basically a global warming denier that wouldn’t be a major consideration for him.

So what little respect I had for Hide in the past (and I did have some even though his political position is totally unacceptable to me) has gone. Its worse for him than the other politicians recently discovered misusing public funds such as the minister of finance. They all showed poor judgement and lack of morals but in Hide’s case it was far worse because of the way he criticised others for doing the same sort of thing. One good thing could come from this though: voters might remember this and we might finally see the end of him and his odious party in New Zealand politics.

But this issue applies to leaders of private companies and public organisations as much as political leaders. The global economic disaster caused a lot of resentment and lack of respect for the top echelons of banking and finance managers because they incompetently mismanaged the economy, caused a lot of people to suffer, yet still extracted huge bonuses and other payments for their hopeless performance. Yet these are the same people saying they can’t afford better pay for employees unless they show improved productivity or other forms of improved performance.

Recently senior management of universities here accepted huge salary increases at the same time as they warned about lack of funding for increases for the people who actually do the work. And the same thing has happened in the private sector where the top management not only provided poor service to their customers but also poor returns to the shareholders yet still accepted obscene salaries and bonuses.

Many of our leaders bemoan the fact that there is an “us and them” mentality amongst many people who work for large organisations, but should they really be surprised? I don’t think so because they can’t expect to get respect if they don’t treat their employees with respect, lead by example, and show a higher level of morality than they do now.

  1. seneca
    November 6, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Here in Chicago, Obama’s home, we love the guy. Perhaps 20% of America rabidly hates him, probably for race reasons and probably because he believes government can be a force for the good. His opponents want as little government as possible.

    His detractors are generally in the South, the States that rebelled in our horrid Civil War. America lost more men by far in that war than in any other.

    It seems that it takes gifted men and women to lead countries. They seem to appear infrequently.


  2. ojb42
    November 6, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Some of my more conservative friends have sent me some really unpleasant material against Obama. I think its really a sad indictment on the conservative elements of American society that it can be just so nasty about someone who seems to genuinely want to make things better.

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