Thatcher's example of Iconic Leadership

Leadership should be viewed as service.
One of the key elements in resolving safely the crisis of the western world and ultimately moving towards a Sentient World is the concept of how power is wielded by our political leaders, and all those in positions of authority. The Greeks recognized two of the expressions of power, which we might simply call ‘good power’ and ‘bad power’. They believed that power in itself is not good or bad, any more than anger is good or bad. Yet its expression can be harmful or beneficial, damaging or appropriate.

In ancient Greece, a man might use one kind of power (despos) toward slaves, but use a different kind of power (kyros) to his wife and children. In that patriarchal system, men held the power in the culture - yet vocabulary itself helped men understand appropriate expression of their authority over others. Kyros indicates legitimate, but limits, compassionate moral authority whose wielder takes into consideration the good of those over whom it is exercised. Such restricted power is never abused for self interest. If we combine the concept of Kyros with the perspective that leadership should be viewed as service to those who are being led, then we have a value system that should define the most basic element requirements of leadership by which all should be measured.

1 Leadership vision and good judgment. One of the principle aspects of leadership is to provide the vision to move the group or nation from one place to another of safety that enhances collective wellbeing. Naturally, good judgment is necessary, without which the vision to which one commits may be flawed.

2 Leadership and Empowerment. Very often a vision may not initially be shared by the group or nation, and so it has to be imparted to as many as possible in such a way as the vision is shared and the group or nation is collectively empowered to achieve the vision

3 Leadership and Courage . Even then a visionary leader may face opposition to his or her actions until the outcome is successful, and the role of a leader can at times be very lonely, and so, during these periods courage, determination and a deep inner strength and sense of purpose are all requirements of good leadership.

Lessons from the Thatcher style of Leadership

1 Leadership vision and good judgment.

Mrs T had a clear vision as to how to rescue Britain from its economic doldrums, which was not initially shared by those around her, and in the process of enacting her polices demonstrated good judgment that increased the collective well-being of Britain. Whilst her style initially suited the times and conditions in which the nation found itself,  her mistake in the later part of her 12 year term was not to adapt her style once the danger had passed and the economy improved to reflect  the new collective desire for more consensual politics. There in is a clear lesson for all crises leaders in democratic societies, as Thatcher and Churchill both suffered the same fate once they had moved the nation out of crisis onto safe ground.

2 Leadership and Empowerment.

At the core of her polices was the belief  in personal responsibility and freedom to aspire through hard work , so in that manner she desired to empower her nation. However one suspects that her interactions with those around her were not based on trust and empowerment but far more on control. It was this latter quality that as the fortunes of the nation improved became intolerable to her cabinet members and catalyzed her demise.

3 Leadership and Courage.

There is no doubt about Mrs T’s qualities in this regard and her attitude is summed up when asked  how it felt to be one person pitted against 49 others, she answered that she was convinced that she was right and that she felt sorry for the others !

So how does Thatcher measure up on these three criteria? Well, overall she rates very highly, although there are some clear lessons for leaders that follow, the main one of which is the need for a greater awareness of self and the nation’s position in the empire cycle. These lessons are as vital to both potential leaders and the electorate, as only when we are able to bring forward truly Iconic leaders once more in our old western world, and in the USA especially, will we be able to have the chance to avert disaster in the coming decade.

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