We’ve been thinking about Leadership a lot at whitefox this week. This was prompted partly by a discussion with senior people in two different business sectors about the training services being offered by graduates of the Sandhurst military machine, now that the country has a “boutique” army (their phrase, not mine).
Publishing has traditionally attracted leaders who are largely well-meaning, well-read and well-bred men and women. I’m not sure how many I’d classify as strong leaders. What exactly does that mean anyway? I once worked in a publishing company many years ago where the Chief Executive’s idea of motivation during tough times was to walk the floors on a Friday afternoon telling anyone who’d listen just how badly all our competitors were doing too. Oh, well that’s ok then…
I’m sure in these days of Executive coaches and what’s left of the training budget that publishing chiefs are expected to hone their leadership skills on an on-going basis. They’ll be fewer assumptions that a sense of entitlement instilled in a minor public school is enough. And anyway, publishers have long supported the idea of developing talent from within their own ranks. I went on a Pearson sponsored leadership course many years ago where middle management were whisked overseas and put through their paces to try and assess who were the future candidates for the Main Board. Sadly, my abiding memory is a rather stilted meet and greet with Lord Dennis Stevenson, who may have wished he’d actually attended some of the sessions after the HBOS debacle.
So our industry’s traditional liberal tendencies and healthy mistrust of hierarchy would probably mean we’d likely sneer at the idea of our leaders learning anything from the graduates of Sandhurst. But maybe we’re wrong. We’ll see anyway soon enough. Charlie Redmayne, ex Lieutenant in the Irish Guards may show us how it is done.