Designing leadership

–Take a peek at the track record of advisers to their leaders:

  • Plato and Dionysius II;
  • Aristotle and Alexander the Great;
  • Seneca and Nero;
  • Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf;
  • Petrarch and Emperor Charles IV;
  • Montaigne and Henri IV;
  • Descartes and Sweden’s Queen Christina;
  • Leibnitz and the Dukes of Hanover;
  • Voltaire and Frederick the Great;
  • Diderot and Catherine the Great; and
  • in case you want to add to the list, Adam Smith and the Duke of Buccleuch or Goethe and Prince Carl August, and so on through the centuries. . .
  • Or if you really want to be cringeworthy, just consider André Gide recommending against publishing Marcel Proust, Edward Garnett against publishing James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot against publishing George Orwell. . . .

I mean, get real: If these guys didn’t advise effectively, who the hell are we to think we can do better? (And, puhleeese, don’t throw up Kissinger and Nixon as a working template!)

–So what? Two things. It’s hard to imagine two words scarier in English than “designing leadership.” And we should take to heart the extensions of, “It was beyond our mental capabilities to predict Bob Dylan winning the Nobel in 2016.”

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