Cardiff City Football club and the dilemmas of leadership

December 21, 2013

Vincent TanAn earlier post outlined the story of Cardiff City Football Club and the dilemmas facing its new owners. Leaders We Deserve updates regularly as the manager is invited to resign or be dismissed.

LWD will keep a watching brief on the developing story since the original post

A summary of the interim happenings can be found in The Telegraph article which catalogues a series of battles between the Malaysian owners and their executives. CEO Vincent Tan has become a central figure in a battle to oust the much-respected manager Malky Mackay

December 20th 2013

News media in the UK all tell the story of a public announcement by billionaire owner Vincent Tan that Mackay must ‘resign or be sacked’. Tan is flying to England [Liverpool for the match, not Wales] to complete the arrangement one way or another.

December 21st 2013

Last gasp attempts to re-negotiate attempted. Tan to meet his chairman, Mehmet Dalman, who was expected to defend Mackay. Candidate for the next manager requires assurances about the contract and some level of control over playing matters which Mackay failed to achieve


Rob Ford and Leaders We Deserve

November 2, 2013


Rob Ford is still mayor of Toronto as increasingly bizarre stories previously on the web escape into mainline media

Rob Ford makes an easy target for stories vilifying his lifestyle choices. They are accumulating in a way that aging commentators like myself may find reminiscent of the stories about Richard Nixon. History tells us that Nixon continued to deny his actions were illegal, as the evidence mounted that was eventually to impeach him.

The long-running background story of Rob Ford implies a leader struggling to maintain a facade of normality around incidents implying lack of control and involvement in substance abuse. Mr Ford as a target is all the easier for his numerous unflattering images which are now entering the wider public domaine.

Several accounts giving historical background of the Ford story have emerged. The Toronto Star has been a particular rich source of the breaking news.

I also like The Huffington Post story today [1st Nov 2013]

In June [2013], the day after police made the massive drug raids called Project Traveller, [Police chief] Blair said he would not comment on whether the police had seized any video of the mayor or whether he was under investigation.
But that was before an actual video of the mayor was recovered on Tuesday, taken from a hard drive seized during the Project Traveller raids on June 20.

On Thursday, [Nov 30st 2013] Blair said, “I think it’s fair to say the mayor is depicted in the video.”
He added: “I’m disappointed. As a citizen of Toronto, I’m disappointed…I know this this is a traumatic issue for the citizens of this city, for the reputation of this city and that concerns me.”

Will Ford resign?

From a distance, the Rob Ford drama appears heading for a sad conclusion. If I believed in tipping points, I would say the situation has tipped over irretrievably. Other commentators believe that this is a leader who will have to be forced from office rather than resign. This view was expressed in The Guardian a few hours after this post was published [2nd November 2013].

Update

Nov 4th 2013 In his weekly radio broadcast, The Mayor apologizes for his mistakes but avoids admission of any criminal wrongdoing, or intention of standing down.


A leader’s legacy: strong words on Tesco’s Sir Terry Leahy by former chairman Lord MacLaurin

July 6, 2013

Sir Terry Leahy’s reign as Tesco chief executive has been slammed by his predecessor and mentor, Lord MacLaurin, in a public attack at the supermarket giant’s annual general meeting. He later told the Guardian [June 28th 2013] that Leahy “lost the plot” and that the US venture was “disastrous”.

Lord McLaurin’s attack is the more surprising from someone who has been quoted as saying that his part in the appointment of Terry Leahy to replace himself as CEO of Tesco was the achievement he was most proud of [citation required, although it appears in his Wikipedia cite].

Applying the legacy test

Applying the legacy test to Lord McLaurin and Vodaphone, we find that the company was involved in a leadership battle with Lord McLaurin as its departing chairman in 2006. Vodaphone’s view of Lord McLaurin’s legacy may be inferred from the unexpectedly low compensation package he received at the time.


Sir Richard Branson in drag. How an entrepreneur wins even if he loses

May 13, 2013

Richard Branson Air Hostess

Richard Branson is an entrepreneur who prefers to gamble when he wins whatever the result

A wager is reported between owners of two competing airlines, Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Airways and Tony Fernandes of Air Asia.

Charity Bet

The charity bet was over the performances not of airlines but of two Formula One racing teams. Did I mention that the two were sufficiently wealthy to own their own racing teams? The owner of the team performing worse would dress as an air hostess and serve passengers on his rival airline. Yes, serve actual travelers with actual refreshments dressed as what the Press called a trolley dolly.

Branson frocks up

Branson’s airline lost. A suitably frocked- up Sir Richard paid his debt. [Reported May 2013]. It was very much a mile high dare..

Who loses wins

So here’s the thing. The story revealed the ‘loser’ of the bet camping up his role on Asia airlines. The publicity was not invaluable but far from damaging for the company. Sir Richard ‘lost’ by doing what he most enjoys, being the centre of attention. Go figure. There must be a leadership message in the story somewhere.

Postscript

LWD subscribers in England may remember another recent gamble by Mr Fernandes. His football team, Queen’s Park Rangers, was relegated from the football Premiership. The gamble of switching manager with ten games to go did not pay off.


Holy Smoke: The symbolic nature of voting processes

March 17, 2013

Pope FrancisThe election of Pope Francis illustrates the symbolic nature of the voting process deployed by the Catholic Church in the selection and election of its spiritual leader. But how different is it to the practices of decision making found in many other Organizations?

In a papal election the symbolism is evident. The conclave of Cardinals assembles in Rome from around the world and its members are prepared for their elective duties. Through dress, location and traditional rituals they are reminded of their sacred duties. The process combines periods of prayer, periods of intense discussion cut off from the ears and eyes of the world. The votes are recorded anonymously, each Cardinal adding a single name to a simple voting slip. these are scrutinized to assess if the required majority has been reached. In either case the slips are ritually burned to provide one of the most famous of signs, the smoke emerging over the Sistine chapel, black for an inconclusive result, white for the awaited news that a new Pope has been elected. [Incidentally, the chemicals now used to achieve the dark and white plumes are pretty noxious...]

Unique and Universal

The ceremony is unique. Yet I suggest it has near-universal aspects which can be noticed in leaders appointments elsewhere. This week, for example, election results were announced in The Falkland Islands and in China.

More symbolism in voting

In each case there was a heavily symbolic component. The Falklands have remained disputed territory between Britain and Argentina which the ‘Thatcher war’ did little to resolve. In the Falklands referendum-type vote, , 98.8% voted to remain British. Three votes were cast against. In China, the electorate voting for President Xi returned an almost identical 98.86%. I will spare you lengthy political analysis. There was one point I found interesting made my commentators in each. On the Falklands, a spokesperson said the result was good because a 100% vote might have seemed suspicious. A Chinese blogger said it was Xi himself for reasons of modesty returned the one vote against, not wanting it be seen as voting for himself.

My unreasonable view of voting

Like many citizens around the world, I value the symbolism of participating in voting. But part of me carries a suspicion that many ballots are more about symbolic process through which a contested election appears to be ‘the will of the people’. Too often, the voting conceals the power behind the ballot box, for example in the choice of candidates or voting procedures. This applies to decisions of corporate boards as much as to those made in the election of a parliamentary representative or a President.


Getting to Norway

December 17, 2012

Oslo City Hall Pipervika ViewThe award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was made in Norway to the institution known as the European Union. The ironies were not lost on Norwegians who repeatedly reject membership of the EU

by Tudor Rickards

The Independent has been one of the few newspapers in the UK supportive of the EU’s vision [if not of all its practices]. However, its view of the Nobel Peace prize award [Monday 10th December 2012] was distinctly on the chilly side. I have made some abbreviations to the following which I hope captures the sense of the original:

Broad smiles bedecked the faces of European Council President, Herman van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz as they took their seats along with the Nobel Committee chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, on the podium. Twice [in 1972 and 1994] the country rejected referendums to join the EU hooley. And has Norway been thus left in the economic cold? Has it hell.

The EU chiefs may be in town for the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, but Norway nonetheless regards it with the sort of suspicion usually reserved for chaps flogging phials of snake-oil from a tatty suitcase. Thanks to oodles of natural resources – petrol, gas and minerals, plus a national mindset which essentially votes into the power the most frugal party that promises to spend the least amount of money – Norway is loaded.

So, given the ongoing knife-fights in Brussels over how to deal with the savage recession which lies like an iron blanket over most (if not all) of the 27 member countries, it’s no wonder that Norwegians want no truck with the EU – although, thanks to various economic agreements, the country enjoys quite a few of its single market trade perks.

Moreover, there are many folks outside Norway who are still scratching their heads over the decision to award the peace prize to the EU. Mr Barroso acknowledged that the current turmoil showed the union was “not fully equipped to deal with a crisis of this magnitude. We do not have all the instruments for a true and genuine economic union … so we need to complete our economic and monetary union”.

A few hours later, a few hundred people gathered in the bitter cold under a banner which read, ‘No Peace Prize For Our Time’, to make a torchlight procession past the hotel where the EU officials were staying. Among them was Oslo woman Elsa Ender, who is one of a group called Grandmothers for Peace.

“We do not think the EU are worthy winners,” she explained. “The Nobel Prize is supposed to be given to those who work for disarmament, but the EU are warmongers”.


Derby drama at Manchester: In search of leadership lessons

December 9, 2012

Football violenceBy LWD armchair reporter Tudor Rickards

An unedited report of the game between Manchester City against Manchester United at the Etiad Stadium, December 9th 2012

Warning to readers: This report will not make much sense to readers who are not football followers. I have tried to indicate CY [City] or MU [Manchester United] to provide a little more information

I noted before the game that Kompany [CY Captain] is going around encouraging players one by one. Good. The game starts with a lot of ugly hacking, more by Utd than City. Rooney MU gets yellow and is in danger of red card. City press hard. Evans MU fouled and injured, but Kompany CY is first to limp off. Rooney scores with weak shot. 1-0 Was Hart CY goalkeeper out of position? Game more even now. Half chances. Then another breakaway, Rooney scores more convincingly this time. 2-0 United

Is it a plan by MU to defend deep and then break? Evans MU limps off. Free kick saved by Goalkeeper de Gea MU . Utd attack. Then another city corner and pressure. Game a bit shapeless. Foul count continues. Now a bit more fouling. Pinball stuff. No obvious calming influence . Scrappy to HT . [This on-line stuff is harder to do than I imagined. Maybe I could try Chess?]

Is leadership mainly from coaches Ferguson MU and Mancini MC? On the field , I realize now, there are few chances for verbal signals by any captain. This game is a wild tactical one, although perhaps the teams have a prearranged plan which may or not be stuck too.

Game increases in intensity. More defensive injuries. Evans MU eventually limps off as Ferdinand MU is also crocked , but stays on.

Cleverley blasts well over the bar for fourth time or so (but playing well otherwise in centre). Sense that neither team will string passes together without making a mistake. 55 min of stop-go rather than non-stop stuff

City scores by Yaya Toure. 1-2 MU. Pinball in the end. Stadium comes alive. Game comes alive. Close calls for a penalty for each side. Much more interesting now. More close calls. Rooney MU gets yellow card. Yaya Toure CY also, and injures himself in process [75 min. } Continues to be end to end. super sub Dzeko CY comes on. And Phil Jones for MU. City score. 2-2.

Even more hectic. Welbeck MU on for Cleverley. More hectic stuff Another foul this time by CY. Van Persie MU scores from free kick. 2 mins to go. 3-2 United.

Extra time [4 min]. Injury to Rio Ferdinand MU by object thrown by a fan. Much blood from above his eye. Game ends. MU players too weary to rejoice [or showing a bit of wisdom?]

Leadership conclusion. I didn’t see much opportunity for leadership from on-field captains. Is the leadership role relatively weak or too subtle for me to see as an armchair follower of the game?

Post-mortem

For an excellent analyis of ‘the volcanic rivalry’ between CY and MU see the Telegraph’s account. Now that’s what I call a balanced view.


Is another Arab Israeli war about to break out?

November 19, 2012

Is another Arab Israeli war about to break out in Gaza? News reports of the last week suggest that is at least a possibility

 Sometimes global events seem to confirm the fatalistic view that as everything changes everything remains the same.  This week, [Nov 10-16  2012] the escalating bloodshed in Gaza and Israel seems too familiar to offer prospects of a meaningful peace process between Israel and its Neighbours.  

Too many war initiatives

There have been too many war initiatives followed by peace initiatives over too many years.

What the news reports are saying

The gulf between ‘maps’ of opposing views is well-illustrated in the following quotes taken from the BBC News Service and Reuters.

 Independent Jerusalem-based Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds

When Israel decided to assassinate Ahmed al-Jabari and continue its raids into Gaza, it chose to set the region ablaze militarily and politically… At a time when Hamas and the other forces expressed readiness to abide by the truce, the Israeli government made its party and electoral considerations top priority and thus decided to escalate the situation

Mordechai Kedar in the mainstream Israeli newspaper Maariv:

No doubt the liquidation of Ahmed al-Jabari is an earthquake in Gaza and around it… Israel should send clear messages to Hamas leaders: they cannot tour the world as diplomats by day and behave like terrorists by night.

Military correspondent Aluf Benn, in the Israeli broadsheet Haaretz:

 

The assassination of Jabari will go down in history as another showy military action initiated by an outgoing government on the eve of an election… Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is interested in neutralising every possible rival, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak is fighting for enough votes to return to the Knesset. A war against Hamas will wipe out the electoral aspirations of the ditherer Ehud Olmert… and it will kick the ‘social and economic issue’ that serves the Labour Party off the agenda.

 

Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters

 Israel is losing popular support in the ‘new’ Middle East, analysts say. In an earlier clash, the three-week winter war of 2008-2009, many Palestinian rivals blamed Hamas’s rocket-firing bravado for bringing Israel’s military might down on Gaza.

That war ended with over 1,400 Palestinians in early graves and a territory scarred by bombing, shelling and invasion. Israel lost 13 lives in the lopsided battle, and Hamas licked its wounds.

This time is different. The Arab Spring has changed the Middle East, and Hamas has more powerful weapons.

“Hundreds of civilians may be killed if the Israelis invade,” says Ali Al-Ahmed [a Gaza resident]. “But once they leave, rockets will follow them home, so they would fail.”

Leaders we deserve?

The maxim that we get the Leaders we deserve is tested daily.  Rarely is the test carried out under such tragic circumstances.


Buckeye Barnstorming: “I need you Ohio”

November 5, 2012

Two days before election Tuesday, President Obama headed for Ohio, for the umpteenth visit of the election campaign. The myth of the Buckeye State’s iconic bellwether status is preserved

In one rally at the University of Cincinnati he said twice what political commentators had been increasingly saying: “I need you, Ohio!”

The Buckeye State

Ohio, The Buckeye State, has iconic significance as having the most volative voting pattern. The political myth is born of a statistical fact, that how the State votes is a prediction of who will become the next President, be he Republican or Democrat.

Election fatigue

Frank Hagler, [November 2nd 2012] writing in Policymic captured the sense of election fatigue getting to the candidates, as much as it has got to the American electorate:

Election fatigue has set in and the general feeling is that most people can’t wait for this election to be over so that they can get on with the important work of moving this country forward

Wednesday, November 7 will be a day of joy, regardless of which party comes out victorious because it will mark an end to one of the most contentious, racially polarized and negative election seasons in recent memory.

He went on to list five reasons which leads him to tip an Obama victory. Most of them can be challenged [and probably will be by Obamaphobes]. But here they are as indicated:

1 Momentum has shifted back to Obama.

2 The October jobs report

Which showed that unemployment remained below 8% and job creation is growing.

3 Late-breaking endorsements

from influential republican and Former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell, and the independent New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, within the last week.

4 Hurricane Sandy and the President’s response to it

5 The 24/7 news cycle accentuating the most recent good news stories for Obama.

Pulled in two directions

It’s all pulling commentators in two directions. Many with a political case to push look hard for evidence to add one last endorsement for their cause.

But there is still professional caution, so that the “too close to call” line is also being offered by a majority of those contributing to the 24/7 election news fever.


Richard Branson Beats Government Bungling over the West Coast Rail Contract

October 3, 2012

220px-richardbranson.jpgRichard Branson called foul when his company Virgin Trains lost the franchise recently for the West Coast Main Line services from Scotland to London. His reaction was justified when the Department of Transport was forced to admit there had been flaws in the bidding process

Virgin Trains has run the West Coast Main Line since 1997. When it recently lost its bid to renew the contract to rival operator FirstGroup, it claimed the evaluation was flawed, called for a review, and started court proceedings over the government’s decision.

Flaws in the risk assessment

On 3rd October 2012, Government ministers announced that there were “significant technical flaws” in the way the risks for each bid were calculated, justified the legal case that Branson had brought against the decision.

Charismatic leadership is not quite dead

LWD has been cataloguing examples of the dark side of leadership and the retreat of the status of charismatic leaders. Richard Branson continues to stand as a contrary example through inspirational and dynamic efforts. When tested after a rare rail accident in February 2007 which left one passenger dead and several dozen injured, he acted decisively, effectively and with empathy for those affected.

To be continued

Acknowledgement

To Susan Moger for her rapid response in reporting this breaking news to LWD.


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