“Thought leadership” – perish the thought!

leaders

Anyone who markets themselves as a thought leader ought to shut up – (pension plowman 2013)

I was tweeted the message “shut up” by a twitter robot yesterday which made me consider

  1. whether I should be annoying people with my postings
  2. whether the right to free speech includes the right to flame on twitter.

The result of my nocturnal deliberation is articulated by my opening statement.

I do not speak for anyone but myself and if anyone is following my blog to get some thought leadership, they should worry about themselves.

Being told “you are a thought leader” is like being put in a box and placed at the back of the shelf (pigeonholed – as people used to say).

It is part of the controlling process of large corporations and governments that they employ people to do their thought leadership for them – to think “outside the box”. This thinking is often outsourced to management consultants as their independence from the firm’s management is considered more likely to provide objective and unbiased advice.

But there is a more sinister process that sometimes gets employed. Here the validation of an idea or dogma is imputed to “the crowd”. The idea of anti-Semitism was not given to the German people, it was, if Mein Kampf were to be believed, the articulation of Germanic wisdom. Hitler‘s claim to leadership was based on his being in tune with the German crowd’s wisdom.

Hitler’s false humility, his loathsome claims to be the  servant of his people were part of the process that gave him absolute power.

I am weary of those who claim to understand the wisdom of the crowd and set themselves apart as articulating their wishes.

The great leaders , the Ghandis and Luther-Kings were not apart from the crowd, they did not have secret police forces and act through violent intervention. Their words and actions were consistent with their intent for good. They made their way through proper leadership,

I do not want to extend any parallels between the behaviours of dictators and the behaviours of those in Government and Corporate Leadership today. The leaders I come accross are those who translate their thoughts into action through positive influence not coercion; for them the word and deed are one.

Those in leadership are accountable for their actions, they cannot rely on thought leaders or claim validation from the wisdom of the crowd. It is the job of those who lead to lead and be accountable for what they say and do, not to hide behind others.

But they should also listen.

The main reason I write these articles is because the thoughts that swirl round my head at night need to be articulated, otherwise they would grow old and sterile with me. No one (I hope) has to read these things and while it’s gratifying that some people come back for more “you are only as good as your last blog”.

These views are mine and not those of First Actuarial. But I am a Director of First Actuarial and we swim in the same current. My aim this year, and the aim of First Actuarial is to make it easy for companies staging  auto-enrolment over the next five years, to do so easily , well and happily.

So there is a second reason that I write these articles, to help myself to understand the issues that I grapple with in my day job. In this, any feedback is helpful, even a flaming bot telling me to “shut up”.

If you’d like to find out more about my (our) plans then drop me a line to henry.tapper@firstactuarial.co.uk .

 Don’t follow leaders, watch your parking meters

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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4 Responses to “Thought leadership” – perish the thought!

  1. George Kirrin says:

    The wisdom of crowds, Henry, or the foolishness?

    yours aye, George
    (looking forward to the foolishness of youth on Radio 2 today as they try to recreate the productivity of the Beatles on another Monday, fifty years ago. Ten songs in less than twelve hours.)

  2. Quang Le says:

    Hi Henry
    I watched Lincohn the other day – I felt how lucky for a country to have such a leader!
    He was an example of a leader who was haunted to do the right thing and took full responsibility. I thought true leaders are those who have the courage to follow their inner wisdom.

    “Those in leadership are accountable for their actions, they cannot rely on thought leaders or claim validation from the wisdom of the crowd. It is the job of those who lead to lead and be accountable for what they say and do, not to hide behind others.

    But they should also listen.”

    So true!

    Sorry as I was wandering in my own thoughts.
    Regards, Quang

    • henry tapper says:

      Thanks Quang

      Kind of you to pick out that bit, it took me ages to work it out in my head! I stuggle to differentiate between wise crowds and herd-like behaviour!

  3. Pingback: The problem with actuaries | The Vision of the Pension Plowman

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