Dictatorship or Leadership

Dictatorship or Leadership

Dictatorship or Leadership?

Prisoners become accustomed to prison. So much so that they often don’t want to leave if they have been there for a long spell. They become institutionalised, unable to make their own decisions, bereft of independent thinking, slaves to procedure, victims of process. The path is often a gradual one. No single step on it is final, no bend, irretrievable. You can still turn back.

Until, one day, you can’t. It’s not that things have got so much worse suddenly. It’s not that all your friends have disappeared into a gulag. It’s just that you don’t say the things you used to say, don’t trust the people you used to trust. Someone drops a hint that a word or phrase you were going to use in public is not quite acceptable. A feeling of uncertainty comes over you. You rationalise that it is in the interest of all that we do not exacerbate feelings of hostility – or even of uncertainty.

You are in a dictatorship. Now it is only a matter of time before someone takes a rap for what, even a few months earlier, would have been a perfectly acceptable remark. It isn’t reported in the media but it appears on Facebook – briefly. Then it disappears. It never happened, you see. It never crossed anyone’s mind that we should mention it. You just don’t, do you? Of course not.

If Trump were an isolated case we could put it down to a little local madness. But he isn’t. He is the role model for all right-wing thinking. Only it’s rapidly becoming ‘right-thinking’. The ‘wing’ has dropped off; the ‘right’ has got bigger. So big, in fact, that it is starting to look like – perish the thought – dictatorship. No, not that, surely? Inconceivable in a world so dedicated to democracy. Impossible in societies that believe in the enduring rights of the individual.

The economic signs of this progression are simple. The poor get poorer and the middle class stop being quite so middle. In fact, they slip a bit because their incomes do not increase but their taxes do. In the struggle to maintain their positions, both social and economic, they conform. ‘The rich are rightly richer’, they say. Always was the case. Wealth trickles down, they insist. Only it doesn’t.

What shall bring us back from the brink of rude politics, crude diplomacy, nude Emperors? Is there a form of leadership that can rescue us as we slip into the oblivion of automated selfishness? WelI, I think there is. Is it leadership? Indeed – but not the kind you may be thinking of. It is a leadership of you, by you. A leadership that makes you stand up to the whittling away of your freedom.

A leadership that enables you to look in the mirror again, for the right reasons. A leadership of belief in yourself – not your rights but your obligations. A leadership of getting on with it. A leadership of ‘now’. How do you start such a movement? Easy to tell, difficult to do. First, find the issue that bugs you most. Not some general whinge about unfairness but an issue you can turn your attention to today. Decide what you want to do that is practical.

Be forceful with your decision. What seems not possible often is. Be brave. Work out how you plan to do it, step by step. Think through the moves others will make as you do it. Coach yourself to be strong but not foolhardy. Work out Plan B, just in case. All that should take you no more than a few hours. Time to launch the new ‘Leadership You’. Ignore the siren voices that say it cannot be done. You know the risk but you are prepared to take it to win. Go for it.

Potential dictators are all around. They will be tough but the tough are always vulnerable – to the tougher. Tougher is only a mindset, ask Tiger Woods. Get your tougher mindset in place.

When you do, you’ll be leader of who matters most.