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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Gilding the Dandelion: Management as Leadership

Wendy Lea, the CEO of a customer “experience” start-up, discusses her leadership approach in an interview with the New York Times. I contend that what she takes to be leadership is actually management. Put another way, she is gilding the leadership lily. Unfortunately, that practice is ubiquitous in the business world. 

Material from this essay has been incorporated in The Essence of Leadership, also available at Amazon in print and as an ebook.


Adam Bryant, “A Leader’s Test: Balancing Drive andCompassion,” The New York Times, May 3, 2013.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Should Icelanders Push for E.U. Statehood Anyway?

In late April 2013, a slight majority of Icelanders who voted in the parliamentary election went for a return to the center-right Independence and Progressive parties even though they had been responsible for the banking crisis that bankrupted Iceland. The two parties promised to forgive or renegotiate the Icelanders’ personal debt and end the four years of austerity by lowering taxes, ending capital controls and stimulating foreign investment, according to the New York Times. The center-left governing parties, including the Social Democrats, had cut spending and raised taxes, making the carrots being offered by the center-right parties all that more alluring. Although not the main issue of the election, the prospects for Iceland becoming a state in the European Union lessened significantly with the ousting of the center-left government. Unlike that government, the center-right parties voiced skepticism and advocated a referendum before any the government would take any further steps. In the wake of the election, it might be helpful to reflect on whether Iceland should become a state. After going over some economic and political factors, I want to highlight subtler factors whose influence is typically understated in newspaper headlines.

The complete essay is at Essays on Two Federal Empires.

From this perspective, it can be said that Britain are Ireland are part of Europe, but what about Iceland? Source: luventicus

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Return of the Mortgage-Based Bonds: Another Bubble in the Making?

In case it has been a while since you have been entertained by going around in circles while sitting on a painted wooden horse, permit me to re-introduce you to the Merry-Go-Round, a staple at virtually any amusement park.

The world itself might just be such a ride, with us mere earthlings playing out our respective roles while spinning around and around as the world goes by once and then again, and again. Lest it seem monotonous to go around in circles, it is possible—at least in principle—to learn something new on each pass.  Weighing against a learning-curve that might thwart an eternal recurrence of past failures are other, less salubrious proclivities of the mind. These include (but are not limited to) avarice, power, and even the force of habit. More damning still may be the arrogance of pride—the hubris of presumption. 

The full essay is at Another Bubble.