To Kill a Mockingbird

So it turns out that Atticus the great liberal lawyer had racist views in latter life. That the character that inspired a generation to make a difference was not so different a Southern man. That the story as told by Scout was seen through the eyes of a naive young child who hero worshiped her father. Do all children grow up to realise their parents are imperfect? Is it inevitable that those we give hero status to will fall short and disappoint us? Do we all turn into reactionaries in old age?

We repeatedly hear that what the public sector needs is leaders that inspire their staff. That there are only a few made of the right stuff. That the task is immense and requires someone special.

We are encouraged to identify these "special ones" who have made a real difference and regard them as heroes.

Would it not be better to demonstrate a little more maturity,  to draw from experience and without becoming disillusioned or cynical recognise that leaders make mistakes that they have weaknesses as well as strengths, that we can have leaders at every level in the organisation as long as they have skill, integrity and a willingness to listen.

The young may need their heroes but the rest of us should be wise enough to set our expectations at a more realistic level, competent leadership.

Blair McPherson former director of community services, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk

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