Thought for the day:Leaders without a clue

Outsourcing and communications expert Martyn Hart looks at a hot issue of the day.You've never met Leon. He's a friend of mine...

Outsourcing and communications expert Martyn Hart looks at a hot issue of the day.You've never met Leon. He's a friend of mine who's worked hard in IT and risen to an IT "directorship". Sometimes he spills some beans when we meet for the occasional drink.

Yesterday he wasn't his cheery self - he had found socialism! Or, perhaps, socialism has found him. Once, he said, he really looked up to those above him: his bosses, chief executive officers, financial directors, people like that.

But now he feels that these are not special or gifted people at all. Indeed, horror of horrors, they are the same as him.

They are fallible. Well, we are all fallible, we're human, aren't we?

"No," says Leon, "I thought that they were different, that they actually knew something about the business we are in.

"When they've set me targets and told me I can't spend money on system and user improvements, I've believed that they knew best. But they don't. In fact, most know less about our business than I do. They seem to know less about running companies than I do, and when you look back at their 'qualifications', they have none."

Leon's lament is, of course, he did work up through his business, his trade (IT), his exams (British Computer Society). And, of course, he expected as much from those people that were placed above him.

Leon's theory is that the rapid rise of IT, telecoms, dotcoms and so on, led to massive demands for people. In fact, these industries seemed to take on anyone and, given the seemingly effortless riches promised only a couple of years or so ago, they attracted the sort of people that could dazzle, talk and promise.

The investors too were attracted by unbelievable returns and, of course, had recruited similar dazzling people. It was a mutual upward-curve appreciation society. Shouldn't analysts and those responsible for investing our pensions have realised those unbelievable returns were just that - unbelievable?

Leon says that our world is a topsy-turvy one where your "betters" know less than you and, even when they totally screw up, they get the caviar while you get the dole.

Maybe you do know Leon? Of course, I've changed his/her name - could it be you?

Do you have faith in those above you? Or are you disillusioned like Leon? >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Martyn Hart is chairman of the National Outsourcing Association and practice director at Mantix, a consultancy that delivers value from complex programmes.

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