According to Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene if an alien was to visit Earth, the question it would pose to judge our intellectual maturity would be ,"Have they discovered evolution yet?". However this question would lead to the wrong conclusion. A better understanding of our world would prompt the question not have they discovered evolution but how widespread is the acceptance of the fact of evolution.
The classic phrase from an extraterrestrial visitor is "Take me to your leader".
If our leader is a charismatic individual who leads by sheer force of personality and whom we uncritically follow through a misguided sense of duty and loyalty then what does that say about our intellectual and emotional maturity!
Whilst our visitor from out of space would be interested in our choice of leaders and our methods of selection they may learn more about us from studying whether we follow
out of obedience, loyalty, faith or reason.
The army is an obvious example of leadership through obedience. The recent junior doctors strike is an example of leadership through reason, if you accept their action was not motivated by self interest.
We focus on leadership, what makes an effective leader? How to develop leadership skills and how to select leaders? We do this because we believe the quality of leadership is a key factor in determining the successes of an organisation. Do we give too much importance to the role of leaders and too little thought to the significance of the intellectual and emotional maturity of the workforce?
We could judge the intellectual and emotional maturity of an NHS trust or Local authority by how much teachers, doctors, social workers, nurses
exercised their professional judgement and the extent to which they were prepared to uphold a set of professional values as opposed to only acting out of self interest. We could judge an organisation by whether it opened up debate or closed it down and whether leaders tolerated dissent or viewed it as disloyalty. We could judge the intellectual and emotional maturity of an organisation by how it responded to whistleblowers.
Judge us not by our leaders but by when we chose not to follow.
Blair McPherson author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk