Friday 11 Sep 2020
⏰ MELBOURNE TIME
9.00 – 11.00 am
⏰ LOCAL START TIME
Dr Judy Kent
Organisational and Executive Consultant, Winning Spirit, Australia
Dr Judy Kent’s career as an organisational and executive consultant spans 30 years. In that time she has worked with senior executives from a wide variety of industries and countries to help them improve their leadership capability while achieving business results in an uncertain global environment.
Judy has worked as an Associate with Melbourne Business School-Mt Eliza Executive Education for 14 years. In that capacity she designs and delivers customised and open leadership programs for many public, private and not for profit organisations. She is also an executive coach.
In her own business Judy consults with managers, executive teams and Boards to help them achieve outcomes while reflecting on their group dynamics, their individual roles and their ability to influence their environment and the engagement of their people.
Judy’s study through the RMIT COS Group in organisational role analysis and systems thinking complement her passion for helping people thrive in organisations. She believes in using theories and tools as an aid to understanding the complexity of organisational environments.
Governance and leadership in 2020 and beyond: The leaders we deserve
The world as we know it is going to hell in a handbasket, according to Margaret Wheatley (Wheatley 2017) and there’s not a lot we can do to save it. In her book, “Who Do We Choose to Be?” Wheatley shows how previous civilisations have followed identical patterns as they rise and fall. She references Sir John Glubb’s study of civilisations and cites the last phase before complete annihilation as the Age of Decadence. This is a phase characterised by “frivolity, aestheticism, hedonism, cynicism, pessimism, narcissism, consumerism, materialism, nihilism, fatalism, fanaticism…” In this phase declining nations worship celebrities, athletes, singers and actors.
Sound familiar? It is indeed a confronting study, and Wheatley does not hang back on her belief that such societies promote leaders who are self-serving and narcissistic, and who, desperate to assert control and preserve their power, create wars and bribe the populace with “meaningless entertainments” and hand-outs. Not to mention impossible promises.
Some years previously Alistair Mant postulated that we get the leaders we deserve. In his book of the same name, he hypothesised that leaders emerge or are elected in response to the conscious and often unconscious dynamics at play at the time. Drawing on such leaders as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and the Ayatollah Khomenei, he postulated why it is that often totally inappropriate leaders bubble up to the top and are tolerated at best, and at worst, revered.
The old nature versus nurture argument comes into play as he shows how their family and social circumstances impacted their personalities and reinforced their self-belief. These were no accidental leaders but they were also being groomed by the times in which they emerged.
Simon Western traces the history of organisational leadership through stages each of which have promoted the Controller, the Therapist, the Messiah, and more recently, the Eco-leader. What was at play in society which promoted these styles of leadership at a given time?
Susan Long argues from a psychodynamic perspective that leadership occurs between roles, “between leaders and followers and exists in the relation and the associated relationship between the role holders”. She argues that the images of the leadership role reflect our often unconscious and primitive desires. Hence the leaders we elect can be seen as “a symbolic expression of timeless human strivings and desires”.
In this paper, I will tease out these theories and test them against four of our current world leaders, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel and Jacinta Ardern. I will attempt to show how they have been elected because of a combination of their personalities, their gender, and the social, cultural and environmental conditions in which they are operating. I will also attempt to relate these theories to some of the organisational leaders of our times.
1 Wheatley, M.J. (2017) Who Do We Choose To Be? Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Ca
2 Glubb, J.(1976) The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival. Hhtp://people.unce.edu/kozloffm/glubb.pdf
3 Mant, A. (1983) Leaders We Deserve, Martin Robinson Ltd. Republished 1993, Australian Commission for the Future.
4 Western, S (2019) Leadership: A Critical Text. Sage Publishers
5 Long, S. (2010) Images of Leadership In: Brunning, H. and Perini, M. Psychoanalytic Perspectives on a Turbulent World, Karnac, London, 2010 pp 179-200
Introduction by Dr Philip Boxer
Small group discussion; impressions of the paper and developing questions for the presenter
Discussion forum with the presenter; moderated for the speaker to elaborate their ideas
Small group activity or discussion ‘What does this paper tell us about working into the future?’
Discussion forum with the presenter; themes from the discussions
Whole Symposium across the papers reflections on the sessions