Monday, October 1, 2012

What Alan Jones’ comments really tell us

Over this past weekend it has become clear that one of Australia’s most influential broadcasters – someone who is sometimes labelled a “shock jock” grossly overstepped the mark in a virulent and totally offensive set of remarks about the Prime Minister and the very recent death of her father.
Before I proceed, let me make some things clear. First in relation to free speech. In my new book "Third Generation Leadership and the Locus of Control: knowledge, change and neuroscience" (2012, Gower Publications, UK), I make the following statement:

I have spent my life believing in the power of a democratic society where the rule of law ensures that people will not be imprisoned without trial; that habeas corpus is a vital component of a free society; that secret police and interrogation without legal representation is wrong and an abuse of power; that freedom of faith, speech and association are inalienable rights – even if I disagree totally with what you say, believe or with whom you associate, you have an absolute right to say what you want, follow the faith or non-faith of your choice, and associate with whoever you wish.

Second, in relation to politics. I am a past member of the Liberal Party in Australia and was once asked to nominate for Federal Parliament. I am no longer a member of any political party and, again as I say in "Third Generation Leadership and the Locus of Control: knowledge, change and neuroscience", I think a strong case can be made for arguing that the rise of political parties is a sign of the decline of democracy. For that reason I support independent candidates at elections.

In other words, I write this with no political agenda and from a perspective which believes Alan Jones (and anyone else) has an absolute right to free speech.

I believe that attacks such as this one by Jones tells us a lot about Jones and, from the fact that, with one exception, no-one at the function where he made the remarks appears to have been offended by them, we learn something about the people who were present that evening. It tells me that these people have no real concept of the unconditional respect for a person that ought to be the hallmark of leaders and aspiring leaders. It indicates to me that these people are ones who are lacking in true self-confidence and who compensate for this lack by a retreat into some form of fundamentalism and attack. In "Third Generation Leadership and the Locus of Control: knowledge, change and neuroscience", I say:

Self-confident people are those who understand that there is no need for any form of ‘talking down to’ or ‘putting down of’ other people. Self-confident people are those who always treat others with respect and who, as a result, ultimately expect to earn trust and respect for themselves ... A self-confident person is one who is always cognisant of the fact that everyone has his or her own issues with which they have to deal. .... Self-confidence is not weakness or any behaviour that indicates a lack of personal resolve. But neither is it the bold, brassy over-confidence that is encountered in the worst examples of some who seek to place unacceptable levels of pressure on people in order to achieve results.

Alan Jones (and his supporters) exhibits all the signs of a G1 Leader and of what I term "First Generation Leadership” – an approach that became challenged during the 1950’s and which has long since reached its “use-by” date. This is a male-dominated, “born-to-rule” approach in which the leader considers himself (it is usually a male) beyond reproach and with no need to show any respect to others unless they comply with his thinking and demands. Invariably First Generation Leadership and bullying are inextricably intertwined.

If a person wants to be a grub and/or a bully, that is their prerogative. But the existence of grubs and bullies should alert us to the need to change both what we look for in leaders and how we behave as leaders. What do you think?

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