April 5th, 2010

Leadership- And The Lack Thereof

The Archbishop of Canterbury is a gentle scholar. I'm sure I'd enjoy his company if he came to tea.

He's not a bad man; he's probably a very good man; sadly he's the wrong man.

Just as Michael Foot- another gentle scholar- was the wrong man to put in charge of the Labour party.

And the Pope- a cat-loving bureaucrat- was the wrong man to put in charge of the Church of Rome.

Being wise and sweet and gentle and personally likeable isn't enough. Having read lots of books isn't enough. People who are most at home in the library are unlikely to make good leaders (though there are exceptions- see Lawrence of Arabia). 

Leadership is like that Higgs Boson thing. We know it exists but we can't pin it down.

Field Marshal Montgomery came to our school once and gave us a talk about leadership. I don't remember what he said. It was probably guff. Montgomery was a funny little, stiff little goblin of a man- we schoolboys thought he was ridiculous- but he had leadership coming out of his ears.

Charisma, self-belief, an ability to connect to ordinary Joes, decisiveness, strength of character- Whatever it is that goes into the leadership package Tony Blair has it and Gordon Brown doesn't.

Of course leadership is morally neutral.  A great leader can be a curse.

But poor leadership is also a curse. As I think the Churches are finding now.

Look at Benedict at the Easter morning bash- arranging to have a flunkey praise him to his face, then, in his own homily, avoiding the subject on everyone's mind. 

Or Archbishop Williams- saying the right thing inadvertently, then hastily apologising.

There's a genius there for doing absolutely the wrong thing, for piling mistake on mistake, for shying away from the responsibilities of office. 

There's only one thing the world's Christian leaders should be talking about now. They can't avoid it. They can't change the subject. Going, "La, la, la" is not an option.

And if they can't deal with it properly they should resign. Handing the problem over to someone better qualified is also a way of showing leadership.