Dementia and the pathology of leadership…

I described previously the problem of the ‘Pathology of Leadership’ (here), with a further post mainly devoted to dementia in our leaders (here). It’s not just political leaders who have health problems. I mentioned Ferdinand Sauerbruch in the second post. It’s difficult now to overemphasise just how renowned a surgeon he was in the inter-war period. From very modest origins, he rose to be the top surgeon in the top hospital, the Charité in Berlin, in Germany. He was deservedly internationally famous … Read more

Donald Trump and the pathology of leadership…

Dame Iris Murdoch, the Dublin born novelist, won the Booker prize for fiction in 1978 for The Sea, The Sea. Her final novel, Jackson’s Dilemma, was published in 1995 and was met with a muted response from the critics. She was subsequently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease which was confirmed on post-mortem after her death in 1999. Subsequently, a textual examination of The Sea, The Sea, Jackson’s Dilemma and her first novel, Under The Net, showed that her vocabulary was considerably reduced and ‘commonplace’ in her final novel, but extensive … Read more

Lean In Belfast takes centre stage with Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was interviewed by Belfast entrepreneur Nuala Murphy at a recent event in the British Library about her Lean In journey and latest book, Option B. “It wasn’t even on my radar that one day I would be interviewing Sheryl Sandberg,” said Nuala. “I always hoped we could ‘bring Sheryl to Belfast’, but I didn’t think she would bring Lean In Belfast to the centre stage at The British Library in London for the first community-led event … Read more

The Pathology of Leadership – What happens when our leaders are not fit enough to lead?

Just over a year after the death of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, his personal physician, Lord Moran, published Winston Churchill: the Struggle for Survival 1940 – 1960. Moran’s 800 page book was based on the diaries he had kept. Moran was vilified and excoriated for this; not only had be betrayed confidences, but he had broken the sacred bond of doctor-patient confidentiality. Some month later, when his critics had read the book, they saw that Churchill had been severely … Read more

Our cultural leaders have a choice about what they want to be: brokers or gatekeepers…

Globalisation, borders, migration, and the collapse of regimes feature daily in headlines as the world is reshaped politically, socially and culturally. Historians will say it has been ever thus – every few hundred years empires topple, centres of trade move.  Embrace, resent or ignore it, our worldview and ways are challenged by exchange with other views and cultures, and in turn our way of behaving as a society and a nation influences and affects others. Now is the time to … Read more

Soapbox: Leadership that can join the dots even if others cannot

Peter Osborne has been involved in good relations, cohesion, community enablement and political engagement for over 20 years. He chairs the Community Relations Council and the regional board of Remembering Srebrenica. You can follow him on @OsborneTweets. There is no inevitable forward flow to the peace process. It is work in progress that needs careful nurturing. It cannot be taken for granted. We must make progress when we can, consolidate when needed and hunker down when things get bleak. The … Read more

Since Naomi Long’s is the only hat in the Alliance party leadership ring…

Deputy leader Naomi Long MP addressing Alliance Conference 2012

And as she does so it becomes clear there are no other candidates. No long damaging and divisive leadership race, and an opportunity to reset the tone and the politics of the party which traded off the competent tenure of David Ford as Justice Minister. But whither now for NI’s middle ground party? In East Belfast she has displaced and relegated the UUPs from second rank to almost nowhere. But where does the middle ground prepare for seat crunch and … Read more

Arlene Foster as leader would challenge some cherished media narratives…

LADY’S DAY: Only the second major Northern Irish party leader and a former UUPer, Arlene Foster’s rise runs counter to a long favoured analysis in the NI political media that the DUP consists mostly of a few modernisers living in fear of backwoodsmen. That’s a myth that will be harder to sustain under Foster than it was under Robinson.

Nine points on the succession of Colum Eastwood to SDLP leader…

NEW BOSS: The SDLP is getting rather good at changing leaders, so that Colum Eastwood’s win flowed from disruption rather than by some kind of insider’s agreement. Being a Gen Xer may help him open doors with younger voters. And perhaps this weird and messy deal unwinding from Stormont will be his first real test?

#SluggerReport – We have to talk about the SDLP…

DROPPING THE PILOT? The SDLP remains alive. That’s pretty much its greatest achievement in the post Belfast Agreement era. Either leadership contender would face an acid test of their leadership within months. The fate of incumbent and insurgent may rest with former leader Margaret Ritchie, who could end up as king maker.

Colum Eastwood: “it’s a good time to move on from the Good Friday Agreement generation”

INTERVIEWED this afternoon about the timing of his challenge for SDLP leadership, Colum Eastwood defended his experience and suggested it is “a good time to change … to move on from the Good Friday Agreement generation”. He’s not keen on rushing into Opposition, but won’t rule it out. Making Northern Ireland work is a priority.

Cartoon – The circling of the vultures

Despite holding his South Belfast seat, there is nothing certain about the Alasdair McDonnell stewardship of the party as SDLP colleagues revolt. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here:

SDLP needs a real political debate and not another micromanaged succession…

After last night’s The View it’s hard to know whether to go with MacBeth’s “…art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?” for Durkan, or the Carry on Cleo, “Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy…” route for Alasdair. Neither would quite be fair to either man. It’s hard, despite his protestations, to imagine Alasdair lasting for too much longer after Mallon pulled his support. Yet his reluctance to go quietly may provide the party … Read more

Biggest threat to Robinson is that there is nobody left who can say to him, ‘don’t do that’

Still image grab from Peter Robinson talking before DUP's 2011 Assembly Election launch

Cathy Gormley Heenan (author of Political Leadership and the Northern Ireland Peace Process) and columnist Newton Emerson on last Thursday’s The View with some useful insights into last week’s controversy over the DUP’s wobble… …a long term threat to Peter Robinson’s leadership is that there is nobody left who can say to him, ‘don’t do that’, he has surrounded himself, apparently with terrified yes men who won’t prevent him from making these ridiculous media performances. He’s done himself more damage … Read more

“Lesson One. Never, ever, agree to take over from a legend. Someone is bound to end up disappointed.”

So Manchester United let go their decent man manager David Moyes after just ten months in the job. And with him goes the myth that somehow United where above the petty desperation that has infected other Premiership clubs (he’s the tenth to lose his job this season). Like the idea that the club was founded on a base of home grown players, the generous time of grace Alex Ferguson had was rooted in the past and a completely different league … Read more

First lesson in how to be successful? Resist the urge to be agreeable…

Here’s Chris Dillow’s thumbnail guide to being successful. 1. Don’t be nice. 2. Be irrationally overconfident. 3. Be a narcissist. (“despite the fact that narcissistic bosses do no better a job on average than others – and might even be positively dangerous“) 4. Be a psychopath. (“charm, fearlessness and a lack of empathy or moral code are useful for career success”) Now, to be clear, Chris is not talking about politics here. He’s talking about leadership in commerce. In particular those big institutions which dominate the commercial … Read more

#Mandela: “The role of the leader is to understand the anxieties of his people and do something about it.”

David McWilliams on how the Mandela deal worked for South Africa… When I asked him how the whole thing was working and whether there was any truth in the whites’ suggestion that the blacks were particularly tolerant even after everything that had occurred during white rule, he grinned and said: “They pretend it never happened and we pretend to forgive them.” These sentiments could have come directly from that other brilliant hero to South Africans, Mahatma Gandhi, who memorably said … Read more

Robinson’s land ‘remarks’ part of a general decline in tone and substance in Northern Irish politics

If Peter Robinson thought he was snuffing out incessant criticism from that turbulent preacher from the unionist back benches, Jim Allister, he was surely misguided. Not least in his follow up remarks in a point of order to the effect that: …it was “particularly sad that a member of the family wanted to buy the land and was turned down because the family decided to sell it to a republican”. Two major aspects come immediately to mind: One, his partners … Read more

Successful McKinney co-option suggests the SDLP leader is slowly getting a grip…

In a time of crisis, you have to do small things well. Much of the SDLP’s decline (which has been slower and gentler than that of the UUP), was marked by doing some small things really badly. The leader, in this case, got his man in, again it has to be said. That’s not necessarily easy for party like the SDLP to pull off. There’s no politbureau, no central intelligence office which constantly grades candidates and has the heft to order … Read more

Has the new media revolution changed anything about the way we do politics?

FitzJamesHorse has some provocative thoughts on politics and the internet – not to mention the continuing ridicule of Loyalism. He comes to the ‘sage’ conclusion (again) that bloggers don’t matter. But Facebook and Twitter and YouTube do, he says. Actually, these are all, in whichever form, micro blogging platforms. In all cases, the primacy of conversation and the capacity to network information and comment are the main shifts from older ‘one to one’ or ‘one to many’ forms of communication. Has the … Read more