Intervju med Tony Blair om ledarskap

Den 14 till den 15 maj så samlades över 4000 personer i London för 2012 HTB Leadership Conference. Värd för arrangemanget var Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), kyrkan som började med Alpha och dess populäre kyrkoherde Nicky Gumbel. Bland talarna för årets sammankomst var bl a Rick Warren, den evangelikale pastorn och ledaren i USA som bl a givit ut den populära boken “The Purpose driven Life och Purpose driven church. En annan person som var kanske huvudattraktionen var den tidigare brittiske premiärministern och Labour-ledaren Tony Blair. En person som jag personligen har gillat mycket. Nicky Gumbel intervjuade Tony Blair om sin tro och sin syn på ledarskap. Intervjun rekommenderas till alla att läsa då den är intressant och personlig på många sätt. Du kan läsa hela intervjun HÄR. Tänkte ge några bits här bara:

Nicky Gumbel: So, faith and leadership. Things are very different here from the US. In the US it’s fine to say ‘I’m a Christian’ but it’s much harder here isn’t it? Faith and decision-making and how you speak about faith when you are in a position of political leadership in this country. How do you handle those kind of things?

Tony Blair: TIt’s just very different from the US. I remember when I was doing some address to the country when I was Prime Minister. The American president finishes an address to the American people by saying ‘God bless America’. I had the idea of finishing my address by saying ‘God bless Britain.’ This caused consternation in the whole system. So a committee was convened to discuss it and they said you can’t really. I remember we had this debate on and off and then finally one of the civil servants in a very po-faced way said, ‘I would just remind you, Prime Minister, that this is not America.’ So I gave up on the idea. I think it’s a shame if you can’t since it’s obviously a part of what you are. Look, I think God and religion can also be abused by politicians too so you’ve got to be careful.

Nicky Gumbel:What are the common characteristics of the great leaders?

Tony Blair: Well, with all the other things I’ve been mentioning about leadership, I think there’s one other thing that’s really important about leadership: you’ve got to be optimistic. You know, it’s like, when you get on an airplane, the last thing you want to see is a depressed pilot. You know what I mean! You want to see the guy with something to live for. You don’t want him to seem all downcast and depressed. It’s the same with leadership of society or a community or a country: people want to feel that there’s some hope there. All the leaders I met at the civic society level were all people who had an optimistic spirit. So everyone else would be despondent and say nothing could be done, and these were the people that say it can be done, what’s more I’m going to do it!

Nicky Gumbel:How do you deal with Hubris? How do you deal with pride?

Tony Blair: Well sometimes you deal with it by experiences that re-teach you the lesson of humility. What you have to understand is that you’re never as clever as you think you are. One of the things I say to people who are thinking of taking on a position of leadership is there are 2 things you’ve got to overcome. Don’t think that because you feel a bit insecure of you’re lacking in self-confidence or you’re not quite sure how you’re going to manage that there’s anything wrong with that all people think that. No matter how self confident someone appears there’s no leader I’ve ever met that in their heart of hearts isn’t nervous and anxious and worried and all the rest of it I was exactly like that. That’s one risk, you have to have the self-belief in one way or the courage or the character to overcome that anxiety.

Then the other part of leadership is to have the self-awareness not to let that tip into thinking ‘I know best’ and that’s hard to do sometimes. Leadership has that temptation with it. One of the things I found my faith helped me to do as a leader is also to recognise that in the end you are a human being with flaws and frailty. There is a model of leadership to which you can aspire but you will never fully achieve and therefore keep always in the back of your mind you’re never as good as you think you are.

Nicky Gumbel: What would be your advice to young leaders as they embark on a lifetime of leadership?

Tony Blair: I would say, wake up every morning with a sense of purpose. The most horrible thing in life would be not to wake up in the morning with a sense of purpose and energy. Life is a great gift to us, we have to use it. I think last time we spoke I spoke about the parable of the talents and I really believe in that. I think that on this journey of leadership, and it is a journey, you will get many knocks and many difficulties along the way but if you are aspiring to or exercising leadership you’re doing so because you have a purpose in life and that’s a fantastic thing. I would do it with a bit of joy as well. Funnily enough, after all my 10 years as Prime Minister I’m not a cynic at all, I hope I’m realistic in many circumstances but I’m not a cynic. Cynicism is the opposite of everything that gets done in the world. Communicate with the people you’re leading some sense of the joy of changing things for the better, changing lives for the better changing your community for the better. Have some sense of what and what an enormous privilege it is to be given the change to lead and to make things better. There is no more wonderful thing than to be engaged in that journey. No matter how many difficulties and obstacles you encounter along the way if you’re a young person and you’re getting to that point where you think can I really do it, have I got what it takes to be a leader? Realise that you do, that what is required to bring it out in you is to have some faith in yourself and some faith in your purpose in life and realise that to be able to each morning you get up to think, I’ve got a purpose, its Gods purpose if you are inspired to be a religious leader in your community, but even if its just changing your community in whatever way to get up and feel that that is what awaits you in that day. It’s a wonderful feeling to have and its deep inside each human being in spirit and it needs to be brought out and when you bring it out and you do it with joy and some optimism I think we are achieving God’s purpose in whatever small way so do it and go for it and be proud you’re doing it is my advice.

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