Leadership, entitlement, bullying, homophobia and racism

I think we have a problem, and it’s “leadership”, and I think it can have toxic results unless we are very careful with the concept.

Leadership is only harmonious if everyone agrees, which is rare. Usually there is reluctant compliance from “followers”.

This means dissent must be over-ruled, no matter how small or large, if you believe that non-compliance is a threat to your authority as a leader. Power over-rides respect for different values.

Which means you might have to make a captain’s call. Tony Abbott did this over same sex marriage. He said “I am the leader, I had to make a call, and I think this is the best call” (Top marks for self-referentiality!)

There is an alternative view, but when you have a strong lashing of entitlement it wouldn’t be front and centre. It is “I am the leader. My job is to empower, negotiate, reconcile and synthesise. If this isn’t possible I must honor and respect different positions and advocate for one voice-one vote. That is my duty”

Entitlement to make a call in the face of widespread opposition is similar to the booing of Adam Goodes. “We can boo anybody we like, for whatever reason and reserve the right to boo even when it has become symbolic of racism”

The problem here, I think is similar. Sense of entitlement over-rides our societal duty to each other to  minimise harm, maximise goodwill and move as much as possible from

intolerance (“you are other and you cause me fear, disdain or disgust”)


tolerance (you are other and despite negative feelings you may live alongside me if your impact is minimal)


appreciation-despite-not-understanding. (you bring a lot to our society. I don’t feel negative but I just don’t get you)

The latter state is a step towards

appreciation of difference. (thanks Michael White*)

“You and I are same and other. Your thoughts, beliefs, culture are amazing. Let’s work together to bridge difference and foster goodwill, and societal benefit”

Something Tony has occasionally mouthed, but rarely enacts. His captain’s call from entitlement is hurting same-sex lovers and de-values his colleagues considerations and heart-felt positions, and his call on climate change is hurting the world.

Oh, and bullying? Yep it’s integrated in the process.

Fortunately connectivity in the modern world enables an alternative conversation and collectively we make small steps despite patriarchal restraints.

And (cynically), fortunately the progressive corporate take-over of government (see our TransPacific Partnership ‘agreement’ push) seems to be empowering us to think outside  leadership structures.

* Practice notes: Couple therapy” “Urgency for sameness” or “Appreciation of difference” Michael White

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