A Big Enemy Of Leadership – The Ivory Tower.

LabourerOur old washing machine had died, and I was taking its body to the scrap metal dealer near our home. My son and I were pushing it along on our trolley. After we crossed the road to get to the scrap metal dealer, we had to negotiate a staircase downwards. Without thinking, we were about to carry the now-defunct washing machine down the stairs when a stranger who happened to be waiting for a taxi by the road called out to us and suggested that we just bring the washing machine on the trolley down the stairs, but to do so in reverse. We thanked him for his input, and saved ourselves an extra trip carrying the trolley down the stairs.

That gave me cause to reflect. No doubt, that stranger was probably used to carting heavy stuff around, but I wasn’t exactly a stranger to that myself! How was it that I did not think of the obvious, bringing both our washing machine and trolley down the stairs backwards? I realized that it was because I had not been carting heavy stuff around for a long while, and I had lost touch with what that felt like. Since some of the current news has been ravening about what the Russians are doing in the Crimea, I had recently been indulging myself in a few documentaries about the Crimean War of 1853-1856 to see if the geopolitics then and now were quintessentially any different. One of the players, Lord Raglan,  was portrayed as being out of touch with reality, as were many high-ranking persons involved in the conflict. I noted that, although those leaders were there physically, in soul and spirit they were in fact far, far away.

Of course, we cannot be expected to continue staying in touch with everything as we move on in life. However, I certainly think that we can choose to remain in touch with the ground of the sphere we are currently living and working in. In order to remain effective as leaders, we need to demolish our ivory towers, walk around in the mud, get our hands dirty and our bodies exhausted frequently enough that when we formulate strategy, we formulate something that is actually implementable.

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