The music industry and the wider world has been getting excited about a new David Bowie single. The main reason seems to be no one saw it coming − after all, he hasn’t released any music in the last 10 years.
Now the NHS seeks to revive one of his greatest hits with a return to “heroic leadership”. The conference, like the song, claims we can all be heroes.
The promotional material speaks of the battles that have taken place and the battles to come, battles that have left many managers feeling bruised, demoralised and overstretched.
‘Managers do not need to seek fame by giving interviews to the local media, they just need to inspire their staff’
The rallying cry is heroic leadership is not an optional extra. Which like the new Bowie single is a bit of a surprise, because that idea has long been out of fashion among management consultants and leadership gurus. In fact, once the golden years of budget growth were replaced by dramatic budget cuts then there were bound to be changes in leadership style.
While some shouted “rebel, rebel” against the cuts others said we should look to the US follow the example of success in the private sector delivered by young Americans with names like Ziggy or Jean Genie.
Of course, to most mangers brought up under a public sector ethos this was totally alien. What works in Suffragette City isn’t going to work in Swindon town.
The era of the charismatic leader who by sheer force of personality made things happen is dead, so ashes to ashes, what we require now is all managers to be leaders. This does not mean managers need to seek fame by giving interviews to the local media, they just need to inspire their staff and make them feel good about the job again. If this requires all managers to play a bit of mood music, then I say let’s dance.