Friday, January 26, 2007


Chris Dillow often writes scathingly of the fallacy of managerialism: that all that is required to turn around a failing enterprise is a more talented leader, or at least a leader better at managing. He detects this in plans to revitalise the health service by appointing private sector CEOs, in the disporportionate pay-offs received by those CEOs within the private sector, and in the personality-led attacks on political departments: the belief that John Reid would be able to turn the Home Office around is a classic piece of managerialist delusion.

But, but, but. I don't know what Chris's view is on this, and would be extremely keen to find out, but I think there is an argument that managerialism is not a universal fallacy; that the personal skills of a leader are not always irrelevant, or even largely irrelevant, to the fortunes of the team. England's recurrent humiliation in Australia goes some way to prove, in my opinion and in the sporting arena at least, the importance of having the right leader. The only match in the entire winter when England competed properly with Australia, ought in fact to have beaten them, was when Michael Vaughan was captaining the side.

For his many and great talents as a player, Andrew Flintoff lacks the ability to lead. He is a great player, but a poor captain. As if to demonstrate our incapacity to learn from analogy, Ian Botham was a great player and a poor captain - not least because he was unable to get the best out of himself. When Vaughan is skipper, the side looks different, more focused, than when Freddie is. This is hardly a comprehensive attack on anti-managerialism, but is it possible to take lessons from the sports field and apply them to business?

Oh and by the way *gnnngh* happy Australia Day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that leaders can sometimes make a difference - Brearley's replacement of Botham as England captain in 1981 being an example.
What I object to is the assumption - often unthinking - that such cases are the rule rather than exception.
Worse still, looking for good leaders can be a way of abdicating responsibility. It's reasonable for us spectators to wonder whether England might do better under a different captain than Flintoff. But it's unforgivable for England players to look for a change of captain to achieve results, instead of taking responsibility for their own performances.

12:21 pm  

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