November 9, 2016


Today, November 9th 2016, Donald Trump won the election campaign to become the 45th President of The United States of America

His triumph came as a big surprise to political pundits, pollsters, and the majority of politicians. It gives salience to the idea that leadership in a democracy is indeed a reflection of the will of the people who will get the leaders they choose.
Instant reaction is that the victory is through the votes of a majority of white voters, and more specifically under-privileged male white voters disenchanted by the political leadership who chose an outsider promising to reassert lost dreams. Around 60% of white voters supported Mr Trump. The split was even wider among white men.  In contrast, 88% of black voters supported Clinton.
It is essentially the central issue of this site, that democratic systems are grounded in mechanisms believed to serve the will of the majority of the electorate through the process of voting. In America today, the vote has granted Donald Trump the right to take over from President Obama. It is the will of the majority of voters (setting aside the subtle arrangements to avoid the outcome resting on a straight numerical count).
It has been said that representative democracy is the ‘least worse’ of political systems. The people of America, and therefore the rest of us around the globe, now have an opportunity to experience what this means.
To be continued
Image: Yes it does have relevance to the news of the day. Suggestions wecome (and my explanation later).

Leaders in the headlines

November 7, 2016


LWD has cited hundreds of leaders, for their good or bad actions.  Here are eight from recent headlines which you may have missed.


Lynn Parker


Founder of Funny Women. An energetic supporter of women’s rights in comedy. She got the idea of her now flourishing business after asking why there are so few top women in comedy clubs, and getting the answer “women aren’t funny”.


John W Thompson

Chairman of Microsoft. Recognized as an IT icon with track record of success. Rose effortlessly through the ranks of IBM, converted Symantec into a multi-billion operation.  His idea of retiring from Symantec was to take over as Chairman at Microsoft where he has been described as a black face in a sea of white ones. Might his modest profile be something to do with the colour of his skin?







Garry Kasparov

Former world chess champion turned politician in exile. His books on chess are among the deepest ever written. His writings on leadership show he draws on his experiences of Russian politics with considerable understanding of Western business theory and practice.

Images show he has a passing resemblance to another sporting great, Pete Sampras. (Wish I’d noticed that when writing Tennis Matters.)

A restless soul, Kasparov has been in battles against authority and perceived injustice for much of his life.

Unsurprisingly he has spoken out strongly against Donald Trump, describing him as similar to Vladimir Putin in scary ways

 Garry Linacre


A surprising choice? The footballer and BBC pundit found himself in the headlines as a human rights leader recently  for remarks about the lack of humanity in the treatment of young people in the closure of Calais’ infamous ‘jungle’.

Has since been reviled by The Sun and government ministers,  and supported by Opposition labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.


Andrzej Wajda (1926-2016)


Andrzej Wajda who died recently [October 9th] is regarded as Poland’s greatest film-maker. His bleak films escaped harsh punishment and censorship from the soviet regime which had butchered his father in a purge of army officers in 1940.

His films appeared to be warnings about the grim ends of those who opposed the regime. Film-goers correctly recognized them as cries of radical protest. One of his symbols was the burning away of democracy in a glass of spirits. He was to remain in his native Poland


Elon Musk


Can’t think how I haven’t posted before about the extraordinary exploits of this entrepreneur, financier and visionary billionaire. Tesla has added to his interest in electric cars. Solar city sells vast numbers of solar panels. Space X is Star Trek meets  NASA.

One of Space X rockets  exploded spectacularly in September.  Stock markets remain divided whether a similar fate awaits Musk enterprises.


Cyrus Mistry


Cyrus Mistry was the first chairman outside the Tata dynasty to lead the mighty Indian conglomerate. His brief time of four years ended surprising  brutally in October for a corporation known for its socially visionary and ethical policies.

Re-enter previous chairman Ratan Tata, identified by Mr Mistry as among the reasons for corporate decline in recent years, including less than ethical practices.Tara’s economic struggles with its global steel businesses have become a political football in the UK.


Khawaja Masood Akhtar


K M Akhtar and his factory in some ways captures the success of the dynamic city of Sialkot in northern Pakistan.

The city has grown through developing high added-value niche products incorporating new technology as required. Mr Aktar’s business makes top of the range sporting products, closely guarded secrets pre-launch, for companies such as Adidas. They were one of the two manufacturers of the footballs used in the World Cup in 2014. Its success overcomes considerable infra-structural problems.




As ever, The Economist [October 2016 editions] helped me find some of these leaders which were new to me, as well as a few reminders of others I had omitted to post about.

Nigel Farage gets his life back

November 1, 2016


This is a thoroughly unreliable review of the BBC2 television programme Nigel Farage gets his Life back, broadcast Sunday 30th October 2016

Why am I publishing a review if I think it is thoroughly unreliable? Because the topic of the past and present leader of UKIP, and the treatment by the BBC are both of wider interest to anyone interested in leadership.

Excuses and apologies

I feel some apology is needed for busy subscribers who have little time to read more reliable reviews. Sorry, I missed the first bit of the programme, and I missed its last few minutes. These parts may have been quite different to the chunk in the middle which I watched. But that’s partly why this is such an unreliable source of information

The tweet that caught my attention

Shortly after the programme ended, as I was preparing my night cap and my night socks, my attention was caught by a tweet.

The tweeter had noted that most of the people who hated the program were UKIP supporters.

As a non-UKIPPER I could see why that may have been the case for this segement of the voting population . But by then, while not exactly hating the programme, and not exactly a UKIP supporter, I felt what I had seen was on the unfunny side of funny.

I wondered whether there might be shared views here between sniffy UKIP supporters and others. A nice test, I thought, might be to compare the views of two heavyweights of the mainstream media. I chose the Telegraph for the forces on the right, and The guardian for those leaning towards the righteous. TheTelegraph can be a UKIP surrogate (just like Nigel himself can be a Trump surrogate).

Maybe, I thought, The Telegraph would be with me, taking the view that the programme was not going to become a classic, endlessly recycled eventually reaching the Dave TV channels. And the Guardian’s view might be closer to Mr Roy’s.

For the Telegraph the programme was wry but ineffective as satire:

Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back is a fly-on-the-wall mockumentary [which] imagined the Leave campaigner’s summer break after the EU referendum, and his subsequent third resignation as Ukip leader. Admittedly, he soon unresigned again.

As a character comedy, it was wryly tragicomic. The gulf between Farage’s pompous bluster and the insecure windbag beneath was reminiscent of Alan Partridge. As political satire, however, it was less effective. Farage is an easy target and most of the barbs here would simply bounce off him. Not that he would pay any heed to something on the Biased Broadcast Corporation, anyway

Ouch. [I Seem to remember the Biased Broadcast Corporation is a quote from the programme.]

The Guardian was briefer in its review

This mockumentary follows Nige (Kevin Bishop) as he returns to Little England life, something that mainly consists of pints, puzzles, episodes of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and a sense of irrelevance. The premise is obviously to recast Farage as a lovable buffoon.

Ouch again. Note. The Guardian review was rather brief, as if the reviewer had more important programmes to review.  The reviewer didn’t need much in the way of recasting to describe Farage as a loveable buffoon.

“What’s your point?”

As someone asked in a subsequent tweet. What’s my point?

I suppose I was interested in the programme, trying to figure out what it was intended to do, and what effect it might have had on reviewers and viewers with differing views on Nigel and his leadership style.

I suspect Stefan Roy was right about the rather heated views expressed by UKIP supporters.

On reflection, the reviewers I read were mostly in agreement that Kevin Bishop had been given an opportunity to demonstrate his remarkable mimicry skills (he claims to have smoked thirty cigarettes a day to get his voice into condition for the part). They also liked some of the jokes, although considering them rather as amusing rather than bitingly satirical.

But now I think about it, who promised viewers they were in for a satirical treat?

Fixing the BBC Sports Web Site: Part 2

October 31, 2016

Three Leaders We Deserve subscribers made further contributions to the recent post dealing with the challenges facing the BBC in changing its Sports web-site

Contributors: Paul Hinks, Susan Moger and Conor Glean


September 1 2016

I really enjoyed your blog about the BBC commentary of the Olympics in Rio. In terms of the BBC generally I’m a big fan -great value, still a world class service and still a leader in my opinion – but I agree with the sentiment of your blog.  Its sports website is on the back foot at the moment.

The BBC sports website needs to do better.

Great Britain is a sporting nation – we are passionate sporting participants – and equally passionate spectators. What I liked about the Rio coverage was the way the BBC celebrated success in a genuine (un-British stiff upper lip way). You captured this observation perfectly in your blog.

In terms of the other BBC products – there perhaps is room for improvement. I see the BBC website as a flagship product. It would be great to see the BBC deliver more innovation and creativity in a way that provided genuine engagement but also provided expert high quality analysis. This is not an easy achievement, and perhaps one that is easy to highlight when absent, but easy to overlook when present.

The BBC is almost a de facto home page for news, sport, politics, weather, etc.  It has credibility that provides the benchmark for others to reach, yet like you, I’ve also noticed their sports section has really weakening over the past year or so.

Navigation is less intuitive. Content and coverage is thinner than previously noted. There’s a move to media clips rather than written script. The media clips haven’t quite worked out in my opinion. There’s just too many of them, and again the quality and depth is often lacking. It’s a shame because the BBC still beats Sky hands down in my opinion.

The bigger picture for me is that while the Internet maybe (has) disrupted journalism – there is a risk that the quality high-end coverage is being lost/eroded.

We’ve already seen printed press struggle to compete against ‘free’ online coverage – and yet often the online material is a poor imitation of the quality broad sheet journalism that provides carefully positioned arguments from alternative perspectives.

I’ve mentioned previously that this is where I see huge value add in LWD. LWD is very high quality material Tudor – and yet it’s almost a public service. There’s other high quality sites out there too. I suspect they also face the same dilemmas. [Thanks: The editor]

There’s a paradox within IT. Information Technology is inherently extremely complex with many dimensions to it. It is expensive to run and operate – and yet the perception is that IT is free and should be very easy to use. I suppose the BBC faces the same dilemmas as the wider public sector in terms of how it justifies its budget. How do you keep squeezing more out of a forever diminishing pool of resources when expectations continue to rise? A very challenging proposition.

September 2 2016


Thank you for such perceptive comments.  I agree with your observations; I think the sport section of the BBC website is really suffering because it is in many ways still following the template of a previous generation of sports reporting and I don’t think there is the resource, and possibly the understanding, about how to work with the website more effectively.  It’s like the established banks trying to offer digital services which are add-ons and not part of the bank’s DNA, as it were. Of course, Sky has set the standard and the expectations of what sports broadcasting now looks like.

I listen to the BBC World service a lot, and I think the same this is happening there; the budget cuts mean that there is a huge effort being made to get more with less and at the same time the ‘digitisation’ phenomenon hasn’t been embedded so it sits awkwardly with the more traditional offering.

The ‘new’ BBC website seems very clunky to me,  and it probably would have been better to have stuck with what they had.  For me the BBC stands for integrity of information and of presentation

I agreed that LWD now has a similar status in that its longevity and the breadth of coverage mean that it can be trusted and in these days, I think that is a very rare thing indeed!

September 4 2016


Hi guys, my comments are somewhat echoing those already made but I feel that in a world of constant, instant headlines from the social media sphere, we are used to knowing ‘the box’ of what happens as it happens via a tweet from anyone (e.g. Serena withdraws from US Open) and expect ‘the contents’ (what, where, when why), which come from the news outlets and require time if to be done well, to come at the same rate – resulting in a diluted quality of story in order to be relevant.

I think this relates to the ease of use of the BBC sports website, because, although you can specify which sport you want, the number of ‘box’ headlines in all sports clutter not only that specific sport’s page, but the homepage, causing for what seems like a poorly put together site which confuses when it’s just trying to keep up with the demands of 2016 sporting journalism.

I don’t think that the issue is exclusive to BBC as (to my shame) I’m a sky sports news mobile app user and since not having a smart phone for the last few weeks, I downloaded the Sky Sports app on my friend’s phone to see an average rating of 1 5- 2 stars out of 5 (it was the only outlet I’d ever used so I didn’t notice if I was up to date or not). Also, when trying to find stories that I knew had broken during the transfer window on sky sports’ website as opposed to the app, I experienced some of the issues you have highlighted in using the BBC’s.

September 5 2016


Great note by Conor with many relevant comments.

I agree that in general terms online coverage of events can improve – but equally I feel it’s important to highlight and acknowledge that technology – and how it enables the effective dissemination of information – has come a long way in a relatively short timeframe.

Mobile computing is here – it’s maturing quickly – but there is more to be done.

You make a good point in that the BBC is not alone in terms of opportunities for further improvements to its website – I still believe that the BBC could do more, but they should be given credit. The BBC site remains a leader in my opinion. Consumer expectations are being set higher all the time – it can be difficult to reconcile those expectations with the reality of here and now. Particularly in a world of finite/reducing resources.

The BBC is still a leader in many different ways (in my opinion). However, it is right to look for opportunity to continuously improve its offering, but there remains a great deal that is ‘right’ about the BBC.


Thanks to Paul, Susan and Conor for these follow-up contributions to the earlier post. There seems to be consensus around several points The BBC retains the admiration of the contributors but as Paul put it:  Its sports website is on the back foot at the moment.

All three note the difficulties of competing against sites with much larger budgets. Susan noted a similar problem with the BBC World Service.

Paul continued his defense of the BBC with his closing remark that The BBC is still a leader in many different ways (in my opinion). However, it is right to look for opportunity to continuously improve its offering, but there remains a great deal that is ‘right’ about the BBC.

The Young Pope might work for the Mass market. Who knows what Donald Trump would have made of Diane Keating?

October 28, 2016

Diane Keating .jpg

TV Review

I noticed last night [25th October 2016], that in the UK the much-advertised new Sky block-buster was up against tough competition for the prime-time 9pm TV slot.

The Young Pope called out for serious attention, through its evident intelligent use of vast resources in what I believe is called production values.

I became a lapsed believer while watching the first instalment of this morality tale. Maybe it was because I missed the first few minutes and hadn’t been caught early enough for the experience to convert me into a true believer.

No plot-spoiler here

I don’t think there is much need for plot-spoiler caution in this post. There has been enough pre-publicity for anyone with access to Sky to know more than I do about this vehicle for Jude Law’s box-office manifestation. It comes complete with a cast of beautifully dressed prelates and the smouldering sexuality of Diane Keating. [Pause for confession: I have sinned, father. I have become increasingly troubled with thoughts of what Donald Trump would have made of the character played by Diane Keating.]

More confessions

The story mostly held my attention. But my lapses continued.  As well as the troublesome image of what Donald might do to Sister Mary, aka Diane Keating ,  I began to consider how to rate The Young Pope. [More confessions: Also, father, I tried switching channels during the ads to see if there was any secular relief on Sky Sports. I was sorely tempted by the devilish counter-attractions of live tennis.]

A bit of a switch off

Worse of all, having failed to survive watching a penultimate break for more ads, I found solace in a library book [Adam Sisman’s biography of John Le Carre, if you were to ask me, father].

Orthodox believers remained rather sanguine about The Young Pope

The truthfulness of Twitter

So it came about, that I never quite reached the end of the first celebratory festival in honour of the papacy of Lennie, the cigarette-smoking American Pontiff. That is not to say it will not become a block-buster.

In a week when Twitter announced serious malfunctions to its business plans, some of its tweets capture my  thoughts on The Young Pope.


More to follow

Festival of Leadership

October 26, 2016

Bisociation Koestler

A Festival of Leadership event is planned for 17-19 November 2016, curated by the University of the West of England, Bristol and the Leadership Centre on the theme of ‘Rethinking leadership for an uncertain world’.

The organizers write that:

This event will be a live, participatory inquiry into leadership that seeks to create enduring learning and transformation for individuals, groups, organisations, partnerships and communities. Styled after a traditional festival, our ambition is to create a space where people from all walks of life come together to discuss, experience and explore the nature, purpose and consequences of leadership (good and bad) in contemporary society.

This is a national event (the first, we hope, of many) hosted in the city of Bristol, which aims to inspire and influence current and future leaders, create momentum and leave a lasting legacy. We seek to create unexpected and inspiring interactions between aspiring and established leaders, to share insights, spark imagination and foster innovation.

We take an open and inclusive approach to leadership that transcends age, gender, ethnicity and upbringing – seeing it as a process in which everyone has a part to play. Throughout the festival there will be opportunities to hear from Leading local, national and international thinkers and practitioners and engage with a range of leadership issues in business, public and voluntary sector, community groups, and many more, in order to appreciate the rich diversity of approaches and to discover effective and sustainable solutions for the future.

We hope you will join us in this exciting and important venture and, together, to make a positive difference to the world we live in.

Aberfan Remembered

October 21, 2016


I heard the news of the Aberfan disaster from a young Spanish doctor.  He had tears in his eyes

Fifty years on, I don’t remember what he said. It didn’t matter much. He knew me slightly, enough to remember that I came from Wales. We were both working at a hospital in uptown Manhattan.

It was a time before good cheap international communications. News drifted in of the horrors over the next few days. I was born a few miles down the valley from Aberfan.

Before, it was an unremarkable little community. You needed a reason for visiting or remembering it.. That all changed as a giant mud-flow swept down to engulf a little school.

Years later I remember Aberfan afresh. A Mexican student, this time studying in Manchester for a business degree, came up to his tutors in some distress. He also had tears in his eyes.  Susan and I in puzzlement thought that he was talking about moths.

We eventually understood. He meant mud. There had been another mud slide.  This time in Mexico.