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Hello.   I’m Simon Lawder.   Blogging to you from River Cottage, tucked away in a tiny Somerset village.  I’m a coach, trainer and teller of tales.

This blog’s about leadership and power – the way we’re led, and, particularly how we’re misled.  It’s also about Trust, Passion, and Fun, my three keys to great leadership.

I’m fascinated by leadership – by inspiring, responsible, authentic leaders.  And by their counterparts: leaders who abuse their power, who believe they’re above the law, and how easily we’re seduced into following their misguided lead.

For many years, I was a leader, chairing company boards, charities, partnerships.  So I have faced these choices, the temptations, the delusion of power.  These days I coach and train leaders. is my professional webpage.

I want you to tell me what you think about leaders and leadership, who inspires you, who worries the hell out of you.  And why.  Share your Mis-leadership tales here so that we can all learn from the hard, practical experiences of others.

I’m writing novels as well – the publishing industry classifies them as ‘conspiracy thrillers’ but really they’re about what happens when immensely powerful men and women step over the ‘integrity line’.  They pose the big questions, like ‘What if?’ (see my post) and ‘Who really controls our lives?’   The issues they address are sensitive; maybe a bit too sensitive for all but the most courageous of publishers.  But they can make great stories.

I’d like to share excerpts from my novels with you too.

Let’s blog!  Take a look at  Then click on


11 thoughts on “

    Posing more of a rhetorical question than a response -but topical! As a CEO, I have worked for paranoid megalomaniacs, balance-sheet manipulating rogues, men who would sell their own grandmother if it could be done at a profit, but also thankfully, for my own sake, for chairmen whose primary concern was for those whose lives were put in harm’s way in the course of their work.

  2. About once a week a news item comes to my notice which causes me to think how true is the old adage “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. When I think about it I believe this holds true when people acquire power suddenly and unexpectedly. A gradual progression through the layers of power tends to vaccinate people from this corruptive influence

  3. Follow the money is always a good first tip when trying to work out why people do what they do. Often perverse incentives (which can have zero to do with money) are at the root of problems in leadership and behaviour.

  4. JAS talks about ‘perverse incentives’. I’m interested in how and why potentially great leaders slide off the straight and narrow. What are the key drivers? What causes them to lose their moral compass? Power? Money? Temptation? Fame? A personal agenda?

    • One word – ego! Aren’t we all looking for significance in one way or another? Some of the lucky ones get to do amazing things: be at the forefront of technology, find cures for terminal illnesses, achieve excellence in the fields of art, music or sport – and will be remembered – but most of us have nothing much to say, will achieve very little in the great scheme of things, will lead mediocre lives (and pretty much come to terms with this at some stage), but for a few this is unbearable. They absolutely have to believe in their own omnipotence, and they achieve this any way they can.

      • Cymmone, I agree with you in many respects. No man, or woman, can truly call themselves a leader unless their followers accept them because they choose to, rather than because they have to. And that’s where the test of true leadership comes in. Can you bear to subvert your own ego in the interests of the entire group or does the pursuit, and retention, of power pervert the original good intentions. Party politics is the classic example.for me. The only part of your post I’d like to debate with you is when you say ‘Most of us have nothing to say, lead mediocre lives’. Tom Peters, the great business guru said something like, “Almost all of your staff are imaginative, respected, inspiring leaders of their community, except for the 40+ hours a week they work for you”. In other words, it’s there within us all; we just need to be given the self-confidence to let it rip.

        “The Chief Duty of a Leader is to Know His People”! When you do, you should practise delegation accompanied by an ethos that when things go wrong, they are fixed; not the signal for a massive blame-game exercise.

  5. I think the problem you raise is ‘ Who is a bad leader? Can we recognise bad leaders? Can we change them?’ the second problem you raise ‘is why do people follow bad leaders? What makes people stop following?’

    Would it help your research for me to relay memories and stories and memories of many leaders of small to medium sized businesses working that I met working as a director in a voluntary buying group, Intersport and some that I have been involved in since. They may not be immensely powerful men and women who have stepped over the integrity line but they were real people who changed under pressure and inside a strong group culture overarching an independence culture.

    Is fear of failure a force that distorts morals?
    Does joining a new gang change a persons moral culture?

    • Julian – I’m sure we’d be fascinated. And hopefully it may encourage others to tell their tales and to relate the lessons learned?

  6. I see leadership daily. Admittedly not on a scale of influence to that of a head of state or a company, but nonetheless a similar role with similar advantages, properties & shortcomings. It strikes me that the more senior a leader becomes, the more dependent they are on their followers (/staff/congregation/clientele or whatever collective noun is relevant). On becoming dependent on “underlings” , their actual personal power diminishes. The more influential the more their power is dependant on rapport and sympathy of a larger body of people. Fortunately (for them) those people are usually unaware of this and maintain their loyalty. However, the fact remains that the “higher” one sits, the less actual power you have. A conductor of an orchestra is the only person who CANNOT make a noise in performance, he is absolutely dependant on the goodwill and respect of his troupe. A CEO has NO influence if most of his staff decide he’s a twit and is ignored.

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