Showing real weaknesses as a leader…

This post from The Intelligent Leader blog’s Management Tip of the Day sounds good, but the comment by Tom Ryan rips the bark off the post.  As Tom notes (cleaned up slightly):

Every time (and I mean every time) someone (including myself) is asked to list a flaw, it’s always workaholism. No one ever says, I’m not very detail oriented, or I can’t multitask. or I’ve lost interest in my career.  It’s always I worked too hard and spend too many hours in the office.

My favorite non-flaw flaws are “I care too much” and “I’m too impatient about making change happen”.  Yeesh.

I do, however, think that Tom missed the broader point.  It is the leader who should be open and vulnerable about a real personal or business challenge.  When he/she doesn’t do so, that’s when the behavior Tom describes is most likely to happen.  I hope I’ve done that with my team (see my post here on “Improving Trust”).

Leadership and Strategy in the Bubble

I just commented on a post by Scott Berinato over at (here).  Per my comment, it was a strong, link-rich post that pulled together a lot of threads.

As promised, I did take a closer look at Umair Haque’s piece on “Saving Strategy from the Strategists” (here).  I still think he’s seeing a strategy disconnect that isn’t there, but with an additional twist.  Yes, the expanded definition of “too big to fail” made inflating the bubble a perfectly rational (if not legitimate or public-minded) approach for many players. 

The twist is that the security blanket the Feds provides infantilizes financial industry strategic thinking — especially during serious easing cycles.  As the feeding trough gets crowded and frenzied, a firm’s strategy becomes very basic:

  1. Push hard to get your snout in.
  2. Lobby hard to ensure you’re not the one institution the Feds will make an example of.
  3. Settle in for a long meal.

As I said before, what does “the long run” mean when much of the financial industry expects Uncle Sam to keep filling the trough, even if/when things went south?

Is Malaysia’s democracy slipping backwards?

After all the optimism about political “opening” in Malaysia earlier this year, it was sad to see the various articles on the latest charges against Anwar Ibrahim (WSJ editorial here, link to Washington Post “Anwar Ibrahim” federated search here).  A few comments:

  • It is striking that the government felt it could roll out charges essentially unchanged from the 1998 playbook.  Ominously, the former PM, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was sure that the government wouldn’t repeat the mistakes from the 1998 prosecution.  The less-than-twenty- years in prison mistake, perhaps?  (I can’t provide the link, The Straits Times [heh, heh…] is subscription-only).
  • The leader of the Malaysian Bar felt compelled to reiterate that the burden of proof was on the government (here).
  • The Malaysian Star online has no specific stories on the Anwar alibi (home page here), while the foreign press had a number of articles (here and here).
  • Remember that Malaysia is a relative liberal Muslim country…one of the comments on Queerty was shocked, shocked that sodomy carries a 20-year sentence (post here).  Being out often has more, let’s say, permanent consequences in an Islamic country (which, to be fair, one commenter pointed out here).

Finally, I’m in India and it was very interesting to see what Google Ads selected to place on Queerty’s banner: at least two India-based marriage sites and (100% profile screening, BTW).  What a great “How I Met Your Mother…and Father” story that will be, never mind the potential series spin-off…

India Observations: Newspapers here give value for money

Even the Times of India isn’t content to deliver simply national, international, sports, and business news.  It stretches to give you news you can really news — fresh updates on all your Bolly and Hollywood stars.

Real value for money here: it is like getting the Washington Post and National Enquirer on your doorstep every day.  One difference though, the star’s pictures are almost uniformly flattering. 

Not that I would know myself, that’s what other people have told me about the Enquirer, anyway :-)

China Observations — One Child, Migrants, Rebellion, and The Children of Men

If you saw my earlier post (here), you might not be surprised that The Children of Men colored some of my perceptions of China.  My take is that modern China’s progress has brought it some social and political ills that resemble those of James’s year 2021 England. 

  • The one-child generation and princelings and the Omegas — Here’s a Shanghai Daily one-child article here, China Post and Washington Post on the old and young “Princelings” here and here.
  • Rural migrants and the Sojourners — A Shanghai Daily column on rural disintegration here.
  • Xinjiang/Tibet and the Isle of Man prison — While this isn’t exact, there’s a dread of imminent violent rebellion and turmoil in both places, though (see these Washington Post articles on Xinjiang and Tibet).

I felt at ease in Shanghai — China seems nowhere near as menacing as Park Chung Hee’s South Korea or East Germany did — but order and comfort clearly comes first.  Freedom is clearly, if gently, attenuated in the rich eastern part of the country.  The yoke in the book is also subtle, which is a contrast with the movie, apparently.

All that said, modern China and dystopian England may parallel each other, but that’s because they’re going in opposite directions on separate tracks.  I felt little foreboding or despair; in fact, my Chinese colleagues seemed very confident (if incredibly busy).  No end times in Shanghai…

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