Big-Man Politics

Just getting round to reading last week’s Guardian Weekly.. how does anyone every manage the daily?!!   Some excellent articles/reviews as usual but I was particularly struck by Jackie Ashley’s article Big Man politics.   It rang bells.  If I reflect back on my adult life, I have been diminished both at work and in my (very limited) party political life when I have preferred to back away from or find ways to work around aggressive people in strong positions, rather than take them on.  Not all those who rise to positions of authority and influence have a ‘self belief so shocking’ (as Ashley calls it) that they can justify to themselves negative or aggressive behaviour towards others.  But it’s something I’ve observed often.  A certain kind of aggressive personality is particularly prominent in many bosses.  It seems Gordon Brown fitted into that type.  For these bosses, the inevitable tensions and pressures of the job, which they experience like the rest of us, are transferred on to other people, normally those who report to them.  Naively, perhaps, I always tried (often in vain) to protect the people I led/worked with from the worst pressures.  Part of the role of the boss is to try to create an orderly and calm space in which others can get on with their work – though in a busy secondary school that space is usually anything but calm.  At the very least, you should try to avoid adding to the tensions yourself.  Disrespecting other people, behaving unpleasantly towards them….  never necessary, always undesirable, but seems to be ‘effective’ in politics and other spheres.  On the other hand it could be explained by the Peter Principle (‘in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence’) – certainly seemed to be the case with GB, although I think he would make a good job of being leader of Labour in Scotland.

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