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Great leadership, not cute dogs, is newsworthy...

Posted by Steve Read on March 12, 2013

The front page of the Guardian on Saturday featured a picture of a dog being pampered at Crufts.  Surely there are more important things to write about in a newspaper?

On Friday, I had the pleasure of working with John Adair in Manchester.  Amongst other things, John talked about the need for good leadership in so many areas of the world:  Leaders of countries; leaders in the United Nations; leaders in business; and leaders of great organisations like the NHS. This is newsworthy.

On Saturday I had the honour of working with the British Red Cross’s Psychosocial Support Team (PST) at their annual retreat at Roffey Park. These dedicated volunteers head off to dangerous regions of the world to provide emotional support to people caught up in events outside their control - earthquakes in Haiti, fighting in Libya, hostage taking in Algeria.  This is newsworthy.

I’ll get off my soap-box now.  My point is that some things are important. John Adair has identified what he says is the truth behind the role of a leader. Nobody has yet to successfully challenge him on this. The ‘body of knowledge’ behind leadership is such that we know what leaders should be doing. Yes, there are the qualities of leaders, and I agree that some people can do it more easily, and more comfortably than others. But to me, this reinforces the idea that we need more of the functional approach to leadership – what leaders actually do.

The British Red Cross understands this, and they work on the capability of their leaders, helping them understand the fundamental, generic role of a leader (who also has to be a manager… this is another old chestnut, but one for another day), and help them develop the necessary skills to do so. These people are brave, they are courageous, they are dedicated. They do their work without bravado and without taking unnecessary risk. They apply their technical and professional know-how, and demonstrate the behaviours of good leaders.

We need them on the front page of our broadsheets. What do you think?


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