Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Leaders' spouses

As questions are raised about whether Gordon Brown has a bit of a temper, Michael Skapinker in the FT suggests that:

"the signal service spouses can render is to tell leaders what no one else dares to.

"In June 1940, Clementine Churchill wrote a letter to her husband, tore it up and then wrote it again. Roy Jenkins, in his biography of Winston Churchill, described the letter as "terrifying", which it must have been – both for the writer and the recipient.

"My darling," Mrs Churchill began. "I hope you will forgive me if I tell you something that I feel you ought to know. One of the men in your entourage (a devoted friend) has been to me & told me that there is a danger of your being generally disliked by your colleagues & subordinates because of your rough sarcastic & overbearing manner. If an idea is suggested (say at a conference) you are supposed to be so contemptuous that presently no ideas – good or bad – will be forthcoming. I was astonished & upset because in all these years I have been accustomed to all those who have worked with & under you, loving you – I said this & I was told 'No doubt it's the strain'."

"My Darling Winston – I must confess I have noticed a deterioration in your manner; & you are not so kind as you used to be cannot bear that those who serve the Country & yourself should not love you as well as admire and respect you – Besides you won't get the best results by irascibility & rudeness."

"Please forgive your loving devoted & watchful Clemmie."

"You don't get that quality of advice from many management consultants."

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