Crisis of Leadership


I think we are facing a crisis of leadership in Northern Ireland. Here’s my (unfinished) thinking.

I once went on a two day course on decision making. It was very good, but I remember little about it apart from an off side conversation with the tutor.

He was American who in his youth had dodged the draft for  Viet Nam and moved to Canada. Now in London he was a professor at the London School of Economics. How we got on to the subject I don’t remember – but this was his thought. In the 1960s British industry was a mess, the economy was a mess and the reason was that too many potential young leaders, who would have gone on to lead British industry, politics etc. had not survived the Second World War.

It’s a theory. You might be able to kick holes in it without too many problems. But I think it has merit.

Let’s move to Northern Ireland in the first and second decade of the 21st century. With one or two (possible three or four, but not many more) exceptions, leadership in Northern Ireland  is not good. It is not dynamic, visionary, energetic. It’s not … Leadership.

My woolly thought is – like my LSE friend –  too many of the potential leaders of this corner of the British Isles (using the geographic rather than political nomenclature) did not survive the conflict. And are not surviving the post conflict.

Yes some died, but many, many more moved away, never to return, or to return in later life having achieved, been effective and successful.

Perhaps you do think we have great (or potentially great) leaders here. Discuss …

So let me put forward a proposal. Leadership is a skill and a talent that needs to be nurtured. So let us do that. Don’t wait until University – why the hell should leaders be expected to go to university, anyway? Start earlier – much earlier.

Let’s find a way of growing our leaders of the future rather than hoping that they will just arrive.

A group of 10 WIMPS Crew members are off he DC and NYNY at the end of the month. Steve Orr from NISPConnect came to talk to them – he told them that there is not one person that they will meet whose metaphorical arses young people in Northern Ireland could not kick.

He is right. They believed him and they felt good about themselves. I don’t know if there are any potential leaders in that group. But we need to find a way of talent spotting and talent managing – not for the X Factor, but for THE X Factor.

Tell me if I’m wrong …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.