THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY

Any self-respecting (or could that be self-regarding?) leader favours a selection of action, success and value words as the core of their Leader-y vocab.

‘Transparency’ always features. Sometimes coupled with ‘complete’.

Its hard not to conclude that transparency is the key quality missing from current public life.

We are inundated with news of obfuscation.

Home Office cruelty to eject elderly citizens, anti-Semitism, knife crime, data theft and abuse – all involve layers of denial and finger pointing.

Clarity is hard to find.

Rather than lower our spirits or unwittingly slip into preachy unhelpfulness, how about a film about glass-blowing?

This beautiful old Dutch short film, made in 1958, is gorgeous.

It is packed with metaphor to remind us what hard, hard work transparency is.

Strength, focus, skill, attention, patience, vigilance and togetherness is involved in glass blowing.

And in transparency.

Glas from Aeon Video on Vimeo.

 

LEADERSHIP STYLE TIPS FROM STALIN

Armando Iannucci’s film ‘The Death of Stalin’ isn’t liked by everybody. And it’s a tough, fine line between laughing and crying when savagery and cruelty of such magnitude is lampooned – brilliantly, and uncomfortably.

(Different opinions here from the Telegraph and the Guardian)

Comedy usually does a better job of exposure than pious judgement, and this film bubbles with behavioural truths that feel horribly familiar…to our work lives today.

Over reaction?

We use the terms ‘power struggle’ and ‘power vacuum’ about our workplaces quite naturally, and without alarm. A sort of tired familiarity. But something else is involved in power abuse that is worth a closer look: the creeping infantilism that invisibly and inevitably engulfs those who work for (is it ever ‘with’?) tyrannical, powerful bosses.

In the film we see the most powerful men in the land (vast power, vast land) reduced, as a group, to functional incapacity – even the wiliest of them – by the sudden absence of the feared authority figure who has defined and circumscribed every aspect of their existence. ‘With hilarious results’ as movie trailers like to say.

There is nothing hilarious about having become so used to acting on instruction, or acting to double guess the reactions of the issuer of those instructions, that nearly all personal agency has gone. Next time I work with a senior person who suggests that others ‘aren’t up to it’, I’ll wonder for a moment “Have you made them so?”.

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From ‘The Death of Stalin’ Director: Armando Iannucci