Principle centred leadership?
I was sent a book this week. It’s called Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey. It’s 200 pages long. A hundred years ago it would have had to be parcelled up and sent by ship. These days we have eBooks and it can be sent in an instant, electronically over the internet. I haven’t read all of it.
I just needed to read one chapter so I could advise the student who sent it. It was sent from Hong Kong. I helped a couple of students from mainland China who are studying in Hong Kong this week. I also talked to a student in Guangzhou (Canton) in mainland China. I read this week that the UK has fewer graduates than the rest of Europe. I’m not really surprised, China has more graduates than the UK now. Anyway the book is about having principles, so I think I might read the whole book. It’s like a success book. It tries to advise on the principles that work. For example, it offers advice to avoid procrastinating and to treat life like a farmer treats his farm. To look after things and to have a schedule. The farmer has to milk his cows at a certain time, plant crops at a certain time of year and harvest at the proper times. He can’t procrastinate. We should have a schedule too. People who become unemployed or retire often miss the schedule that they are required to stick to as part of the world of work. We also need rules, principles that we abide by, as we live our lives.
It’s Remembrance Sunday when we remember those servicemen and women whose principles have helped us feel safer in times of war. They have been the policemen of the world. There is a bond based on trust between them. Not the guys who actually fight and the ones who give the orders. I mean the ones who get blood on their hands and have to be able to rely on their mates.
“Rhetoric and good intentions aside, if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success.”
With some people it’s all talk and trying to look important. I watched a bit of that spectacle on television last night. It looked more like a celebration than an act of remembrance and respect. The royals were flanked by the Oxbridge crowd, all in uniforms, which these days is a shiny dark suit. Cameron, Clegg and Miliband may belong to different political parties, but they all looked the same. It was an unprincipled act of showing off. Look how important we are! Not a thought for the soldier who comes home to his family shaking and unable to sleep because of the nightmares of war. These casualties of conflict suffering from post traumatic stress disorder deserve help, but all they get is told to get on with it. They are subjected to benefit cuts, assessments that question their principles and insults them and the ideological cruelty of social experiments by IDS and his army of officious jobsworths at the DWP.
100 years ago the Oxbridge crowd judged men suffering from ‘shell shock’ to be cowards and deserters, and had them shot; things haven’t changed much.
Should we all aspire to be like these obnoxious so called leaders that take every opportunity they can to show how ‘important’ they are and how little respect they have for us? Can we have principles that allow us to not compete, not to aspire to be millionaires, not be so insecure we need to show off. Can we be principled enough to have some respect for the people who risk their lives trying to keep us safe?
Anyway, I think some of our universities could be teaching the wrong values to young people. I’m not just talking about a lack of respect for alcohol and illegal drugs; but a lack of respect for people; for humanity. They tell us Oxford and Cambridge are the ‘best’ universities. The reality is that many of the graduates these institutions foist on society are obnoxious unprincipled exhibitionists. The Bullingdon Club is only part of the indoctrination into the elitist Oxbridge club.
You may be surprised to know Chinese students are very different from British students. One of the students I helped with her studies this year is about to graduate with a MSc at the University of Wolverhampton. The others in Hong Kong are doing Masters degrees too. They see education as important and China is doing quite well these days and is growing as a country. They have a less competitive attitude and a more collective attitude to life. The attitude of the fighting soldier is not one of competing with others, but one of working as a unit, bonded by trust in his comrades. They are bound together by principles and a respect for humanity.
I think we need some principle centred leadership in government, but who has the humility to lead this once great nation that was once Great Britain?
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