It was George Lamming, the revered Barbadian author, who observed that “There are men and women in the Caribbean who are so blinded by their own brilliance that they do not see the darkness through which they lead others”.
He was then (in 1972) adverting to contemporary Caribbean leaders. Notwithstanding, it is an observation not totally irrelevant in other circumstances, and times. For complementary to leadership is the critical attribute of teamsmanship. Those of us who played games in our youth would have come to realise how positive were lessons learnt from team games: how to lose, how to take the umpire’s or referee’s decision – the sort of experience that helped to inform the relationships we would build later in life, whether personal or organisational.
In the latter case it becomes particularly relevant in matters of decision-making, where it is not unusual to be outvoted – sometimes on the wrong conclusion. But all professionals anywhere in the world understand that as a team member there are times they have to run with a decision with which they are uncomfortable.
So that those of us who pre-empt superior knowledge over working colleagues, to the extent of being incapable of forging productive relationships, add little value to the organization, and regrettably at the same time demean their very ‘brilliance’ which otherwise could have been respected. As a consequence they become caught in a confliction in which they are forced to reduce the possible worth of others in order to upgrade their own.
What is troubling is that after having repeatedly suffered this debilitative experience, they may have portrayed an image of isolation (if not insulation), but more critically of an inability to reconcile the strengths and weaknesses of self with those of others.
E B John