Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Warrior, the Priest and the King

The roles required for effective governance: the warrior, the priest and the king.

  • The warrior is the enforcer, using charm, gifts and bludgeons to get stuff done
  • The priest is the strategist, directing the plays with divinely-inspired vision
  • The king exemplifies the unity and purpose of the community as a whole.

Many political failures result from getting these roles wrong; either by omitting one or more of them or misallocating power between them. Take Brexit (from an elite point of view):
David Cameron was the King, George Osborne was the Warrior (the Treasury frequently plays the role of enforcer) and people like Gove and Hilton were the Priests. But Osborne also played the strategist while Gove was used merely departmentally and Hilton bailed. The result was a fatal lack of coherent strategy and a sense of visionless coasting on the part of the Cameron administration.
Sometimes the Warrior is in the ascendant. When Margaret Thatcher came to power, the Establishment was beset by enemies: unruly trades unions, a rapacious EU bureaucracy, a stumbling economy. The Warrior demolished her opponents but couldn't progress to the role of King. Her endless search for further enemies brought about her downfall. Her successor, the emollient John Major, was a weak King.

You could tell a similar story about Winston Churchill.

In Myers-Briggs terms:

  • the King is a Guardian, most likely an ESTJ/ESFJ; 
  • the Warrior is often an Artisan ESTP .. or perhaps a righteous Idealist ENFJ; 
  • the priest is typically an intellectual Rational (NT).

The Labour Party

They have a diffident intellectual leader (Corbyn) failing to play the King; they have a far-left intellectual John McDonnell as Shadow Chancellor, failing as an effective Enforcer; and no Priest with a widely-supported political programme. In short: leaderless, ineffectual and all over the place; a party in civil war.

The Tories

Faced with novel challenges post-Brexit, they need powerful people in all three roles. Gove would be a good candidate as the Priest, although his political ineptness would have to be supervised; the Warrior role is up for grabs and not really visible in this leadership election, while Theresa May is a psychological match for the King role.

The question for Theresa May is whether she's up for the mission, or sees herself instead as a trojan horse for the dominant Establishment Remain faction. In the latter case, there will be tears before bedtime.


All of the above informs programme management as well. And business: COO, CMO, CEO.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Keep it polite and no gratuitous links to your business website - we're not a billboard here.