Stewards or Leaders

Yesterday’s (6th August) Daily Telegraph contained an above average gem count. Statue of the Celtic queen who lead a violent uprising against the Romans around 60 and met a bad (but uncertain) end. Since her forces brunt London to the ground and killed everyone who had not fled the city, it isn't clear to me why she rates such a heroic statue. James Quinn in the Business Section reflected on the quality of leadership in a number of companies and classified Chief Executive Officers as “Stewards” or “Leaders”. Stewards as the classification suggests take the organisation forward by managing the existing business. Leaders on the other hand take that existing business and manage it for future challenges. Quinn’s advice is to follow leaders. The classification can also be seen in local government where some political leaders are really stewards (and tend to be bad stewards at that) and see their role as providing political legitimacy for the officers’ wishes. Others provide political leadership and make sure the officers follow the political directions. One can see this in Planning at District Level where the Planning Departments implement their own policies regarding the location of housing, manufacturing and other businesses without due regard to the wishes or the wellbeing of the individual communities they serve. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard provided an analysis of the oil industry. As fast as oil prices fell due to overproduction by Opec, the shale producers (in the U.S.) were able to cut their costs. Whilst the North American rig count has dropped (from 1608 in October to 664), oil production in the U.S.  has risen to a 43 year high of 9.6 million barrels per day in June. Elsewhere Allister Heath quotes from John Maynard Keynes’ “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren” which predicted that by 2030 humanity would be eight times better off than they were in 1930. There are problems, of course: millions of unskilled workers are finding it much harder to keep up; the well-paid blue-collar jobs of the past no longer exist, and routine service-sector jobs may soon be automated. But to highlight these problems isn’t to condemn capitalism: we need better education strategies to counter low productivity. We also need better monetary policies that don’t cause endless booms and busts. But we mustn’t ignore the lessons of the past and reject capitalism, the greatest poverty alleviation mechanism ever created.

The image was originally posted to Flickr by Aldaron at

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