Hegemony, football, and breaking legs.

Stefan Stern does the management blog at the FT. In a recent issue he was bigging up Michael Maccoby, who does seem like a very bright guy indeed.

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst, globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is president of The Maccoby Group in Washington, DC and director of the Project on Technology, Work and Character, a not for profit research organization.

For over 35 years, Dr. Maccoby has been consultant and coach to leaders in corporations, unions, universities, the World Bank, and the State and Commerce Departments of the U.S. Government. He has worked in 33 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

So where does the football and the hegemony and the breaking of legs come in? Well, Stern says, of some business leaders’ request for government regulation

“Michael Maccoby explained it like this: if the game of football was getting too dangerous, if people were regularly breaking their legs, you might want to change the rules. But you would still want the game to remain essentially the same. Maybe some of the rules of business will have to change if we want to save the world – on carbon, on water, on waste. But it will still be business.”

Hmm. It makes it seem like it’s a ‘fair game’. But without using ‘moving the goalposts’ and ‘level playing field’ metaphors, maybe somebody should point out that the game involves millions and millions and millions of people being screwed as part of ‘the game’, and that the pitch is falling apart the referee is blind, the balls they use are being stitched together by starving 8 year-olds from the sub-continent… I could go on.

Hegemons? Well, they get to change the rules of the game (obviously in their own [perceived] self-interests. You don’t stay a hegemon by being nice)

Maybe the wonderful Simon Kuper (FT sportswriter, among other thins) could have a word with Messers Stern and Maccoby about the metaphor?

PS Also check out Maccoby’s fascinating article on Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons…


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