Business Eye: Getting under the skin of our lonely leaders

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

Is it just me, or do you also live with a perpetual feeling of inadequacy, always out of your depth?

Do some days propel themselves from beginning to end leaving you spent and unsure what you actually achieved?

The more I come to understand my life, the more I notice just how little I know and how much else sits beyond my comprehension. Do you feel that too?

The “lonely leader” paradox is common in business and politics. You become leader because others are convinced you have answers, and you will readily fool yourself into believing your own PR, but once in the hot seat it becomes abundantly apparent to all but the most arrogant of fools that you are no omniscient oracle, and that understanding the right questions is probably beyond you, let alone having all the answers; not that you can ever let on.

Every moment is replete with back seat critics who take the good for granted and pick, pick, pick away at your every imperfection. Shakespeare put the point poetically; “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones”.

Caught in this perilous position, the slightest heartfelt praise can be a powerful tonic, which brings me to a few words of support for a few local leaders, it being nearly Christmas.

Government is much more difficult than opposition. Nothing ever runs perfectly so there are always reasons to be critical, but spinning the fiction of certain answers in opposition is no substitute for the hard graft of real responsibility.

John Bercow and David Lidington are both in my experience highly capable decent human beings trying to stay the course of cut-throat national election politics while all the time balancing the needs of their constituents, government and family life.

Bucks County Council is the only County to have remained Tory controlled for all its 125 year life. It is Councillor Martin Tett and the leaders before him who have delivered us the best schools in the land, one of the healthiest populations in the world, and such a strong fight against HS2.

Councillor Neil Blake and his team at AVDC have to work out how to protect front line services in the face of savage budget cuts. It is a difficult, thankless, complex and highly responsible task.

We will not always see eye to eye with them but we are lucky to have the leaders we enjoy.