Obama, Thatcher and a leadership feast
You may have noticed that question often posed to the celebrity interviewee about who’d they’d most like to have dinner with and why. Usually it’s an element of a formulaic interview slot in the print media and a bit of fun.
The point behind the question though is about who the individual would like to learn more about or from. So it has me thinking who would be my dinner party of all the talents…those inner qualities that we see expressed in others that are vital to outstanding leadership?
Imagine for a moment that the people I’d invite hadn’t heard about my lack of culinary skills or, better still, I’d inspired a top chef to provide the necessary support to the occasion. Who would be at the table?
Barack Obama – despite the frustrations of working with, and being thwarted by, a Republican Congress his optimism and positivity continue to shine, as do the quality and warmth of his communication and his sense of humour all of which would help build an engaging conversation.
Margaret Thatcher – epitomises the extraordinary power of will needed to make sustained change and into the discipline and self-control that underpin willpower and help us stay on course when a temptingly expedient, and easier, but likely unsuccessful option occurs to us.
Sir Alex Ferguson – exemplifies how to get the best from others, how to inspire and motivate by connecting with the individual and what makes them tick. His extraordinary record of developing young talent and building and maintaining high performing teams is a matter of public record. Perhaps less well-known is the time and attention given to developing relationships across the whole organisation or in supporting young managers.
Nelson Mandela – set the example for rising above conflict and bitterness, blending the powers of forgiveness and compassion with a bigger worldview to bring his vision of unity and collaboration to pass.
HM The Queen – embodies many of the seemingly old-fashioned virtues around ethics and character that are much needed in our leadership today – qualities such as service, duty, dignity, honesty, tolerance, commitment and consistency.
So, there you have my pick. Who’d be at your leadership table and why? Oh, and if you’re wondering what I’d be bringing…hopefully a dollop of humility and almost certainly lots of vulnerability in the presence of such high quality leadership.