Leading by example

High-profile indiscretions in sport and parliament demonstrate a lack of leadership skills, says Guy Moreton.

I was planning to use this article to initiate a debate about the "art of leadership". However, I have only a few hundred words, so I am going to focus on just one aspect of leadership that I think is under-rated and has been lacking in recent times - humility.

Two events have brought this to mind and they are the ongoing debacle over MPs' expenses and footballer and England captain John Terry's highly publicised indiscretions.

The four MPs who are facing criminal charges over their "alleged" fraudulent misuse of public money are trying to wriggle out of the situation by using a 17th-century law designed to help them do their jobs as our elected representatives - not protect them after they've been "caught out".

Their lack of humility is particularly galling. How can they not understand the public anger at their actions? After their blatant exploitation of an admittedly flawed expenses system here is their chance to do the right thing and yet they are still trying all they can to worm their way out of the situation.

The John Terry situation is somewhat different. He has not stolen from the public purse or broken the law. However, most people would accept he's transgressed morally and therefore you'd assume that at some point he'd face up to the consequences of his actions.

My issue here is not what he's alleged to have done - that's the business of those involved - but there is a lack of humility from him regarding the situation and what's going on around him.

He was the captain of the England Football team and, as such, held one of the most prestigious positions in world sport. Yet, according to the media, it was a pretty unedifying scene that greeted Fabio Capello at their crunch meeting.

Like the MPs, he did not look to rectify things and bring some dignity back to the situation by accepting responsibility but tried to cling on, come what may. I call that self interest, not leadership.

To be a great leader you need to have humility and empathy for what is going on around you. Many will say Terry failed on both counts, but he's just a footballer and you can't expect his "moral compass" to reflect that of the nation. MPs, however, should be different and if these four are anything to go by we certainly seem to have lost our way.

- Guy Moreton is director of MorePeople

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