Thursday, 9 September 2010

Where have all the (British) heroes gone?

Right. A quick test. Give me the names of 10 British individuals who would feature in a book on strong, inspirational and talented leaders who also serve as role models worthy of emulation.

Get beyond about seven? Me neither.

But is that because Britain is (contrary to Simon Cowell's assertion) devoid of talent, or is it because as Brits we're such a critical and cynical bunch?

The editorial team of HR Case Studies have recently been reading a book (co-authored by a Brit and an American incidentally) which focuses on developing innate personal strengths and talents rather than concentrating on eliminating weaknesses and acquiring new skills. The book is liberally laced with anecdotes from the lives of leaders and entrepreneurs from across the Atlantic - Tiger Woods, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Colin Powell, Charles Colson, Cole Porter. Although there's a tacit acceptance that all these individuals have weaknesses and failings (perhaps Tiger Woods would be unlikely to grace the pages of an update edition!) there's nevertheless a belief that despite such failings, their strengths and achievements are worthy of acclaim, and that we can learn from their example.

Who would feature if the book was restricted to British leaders and entrepreneurs who are also considered to be good role models?

Forget any football players (they're all overpaid philanderers), cricket players (they drunkenly pilot plundered pedalos), politicians (expense-grabbing warmongers), rock musicians (all on drugs, living in the Bahamas), scientists (elite swots), business leaders (earn too much), military leaders (political stooges), HR professionals (spend too much time pondering the reason for their existence…) And on and on we go.

But are we really so lacking in role models that we couldn't scrape together enough to fill the pages of a "Brits Only" book similar to the one above? Or is it more the case that we're such a cynical bunch that the slightest sign of weakness, failure or an error of judgement in a character and they are immediately and eternally cast onto the heap marked "Villains".

Think we need to reconsider some of the guys in the Villains heap and see if we can't move them into the rather small heap for Heroes.

Any suggestions who should be there?

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