29 November 2008

The Downfall of a BAH Leader

Repeat after me, boys and girls: In a UCaPP world, the most powerful form of power is referent power. The only sustainable form of leadership is referent leadership. A leader who might well have legitimacy because of a board-of-directors appointment, or say, the outcome of a first-past-the-post election, might not be considered a leader by those whom he is supposed to be leading. Attempting to assert power - especially through coercion wielded through BAH mechanisms - is a recipe for disaster.

And so, our ├╝ber-BAH Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is facing political disaster. Winning the election with a substantial minority of the popular vote means that he does not have a clear mandate from the people to implement his party's ideological agenda. And thus, when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty rose in the House this week to deliver the ideological agenda wrapped around a Fiscal Update, Harper's narcissistic arrogance and political cynicism came shining through. Fuzzy sweaters or no, Harper's fundamental lack of understanding of what it means to cooperate - let alone collaborate - creates a wonderful parliamentary drama, worthy of any prime time series: we could call it, Centre Block.

Despite the Conservative talking points, questioning the legitimacy of the opposition to form a coalition (of which there is no question - it is both democratic and constitutionally legitimate for a group representing two-thirds of the electorate to form a government), now is the time for true collaborative leadership to come to the fore. And I'm not merely talking about the worldwide economic crisis that Harper and Flaherty think can be beaten back by denying civil servants the right to strike, and women the right to pay equity. This is a UCaPP world that needs UCaPP-style leadership. The lessons from south of the border are quite clear: those who are willing to consider the multiple interconnections among diverse contexts, and engage in productive dialogue rather than partisan debate, are those whom the people will follow. They are the referent leaders. And, Stephen Harper, you are no Barack Obama.

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