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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Predatorial Prime Minister

"Stephen is a predator," he told Stone.  "It's whoever is in his sights."
Oh come on, political left; don't sound so outraged.
And come on, political right; don't sound so indignant. 
Of course the Prime Minister is a predator.  There's never been any question that he's a predator.  In fact, his Party has celebrated the fact that Harper is a predator - it's the brand that's led him to win, so much as his wins weren't about the other guys losing.
We want Apex Predators for our leaders.  We seek them out and reward their ruthlessness, mistaking it for leadership.  We also look for this quality in an increasingly-competitive work world. 
How often if you've heard "you eat what you kill" in reference to closing deals, landing clients and making sales?  That's why.
There's a piece of our cognitive hardwiring which is designed to be accepting of and desirous of predatorial leaders; it's almost the psychosocial equivalent to an appendix.  Back in our ancient past, we would have relied on tough, aggressive predators in the pack to bring down prey and fend off threats.  That way the rest of us could do things like learn to harness fire.
It's why the aggressive political leaders out there (whatever their political stripe) are all about standing against, puffing their chest and chewing the scenery.  It's also why they will vilify someone as being a threat, be it the lazy poor or the selfish elites. 

It's why bosses like Harper thrive when they have an opponent to bash.

And there are still times where you want leaders like this at the fore, particularly when there are real threats out there.  But there's a difference between the chest-thumping gorilla and the one who's willing to go into the fray and bash heads, risking personal injury in the process.
We may want the functionally-fixed, narrow-focused attack dogs at the front, but the political predators we have now are not what they're selling themselves to be.  When things get really hot, they (Harper in particular) have backed down, time and again.
Unlike, say, a Vladimir Putin.  That guy's a real killer and unashamed of it.
Part of us is hard-wired to want the tough guy in charge, but we are increasingly recognizing that there is a world of difference between being a bully and being a leader.  You want a bully in your corner when you feel weak and threatened, but we don't want to be constantly on edge or reliant on feudal kings to keep us safe.
We want leaders who empower.
So yeah, we have a predator for Prime Minister - and lots of other predators in senior ranks throughout government and business.  We might even be needing real tough guys in some roles in the near future.
But that's not leadership
And in as complex, diverse and interwoven a society as we have now, a boss who rests atop of the food chain isn't going to cut it - we need a stone in the soup.

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