The advantage of a PM who has failed

The possibility of the impossibility never makes sense. But when it does, you’ve outscored the competition.

Recently it became clear that Herman Van Rompuy, our prime minister, is going to become the first European President. This implies that somebody has to step up to take his place. Now a lot of people expect his fellow party-member and predecessor Yves Leterme to claim the stage. This prospect has sparked fierce debates among politicians, citizens and journalists.

The entrance and exit of Leterme

Leterme, who got 800 000 personal votes in the last national election (a record!), failed to overcome the differences between dutch-speaking and french-speaking parties. Leterme and his government chose confrontation over reconciliation which turned into escallation and mutual distrust. Not really a recipe for success especially when you’re facing a lot of economic and social turmoil.

After a turbulent trial over the sale of Fortis where legal officials suggested that politicians had to influence judges, Leterme had to step down. This must have been a huge blow for his pride and ego which had already taken a severe beating in the preceding months. After his resignation Leterme was resentful and bitter. Not a great way to make friends if you ask me.

Anyway. Herman Van Rompuy took over and managed to create a more constructive climate. But now Van Rompuy is gone and Leterme is ready to step back up.

Why the worst may be the best

I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. What I do know is that Leterme can have a huge advantage in comparison to everyone else. He has been through a terrible experience no one has ever been through before. True, it was humiliating, true, it must have made him bitter, but it has also been a tremendous opportunity to learn. If – and let me stress that again – if he has learned anything, it will give him an advantage which might make him the best prime minister we’ll ever have.

Why? Because he has made these mistakes AND was able to overcome them. Most people will only be able to avoid them, which is of course smart and highly intelligent, but is it always an advantage?

You tell me.

Innovative politics?

Also, offering people a second chance is a great opportunity to make the most of people’s personal experience. If not, how could we ever learn and evolve?

If we’ve ever evolved, it’s by making mistakes and overcoming them, not by just avoiding them. How can you seriously claim that creative and innovative companies have to allow mistakes when in politics mistakes shouldn’t be forgiven? Seriously?

What if Leterme is able to overcome his mistakes? Wouldn’t that make him stronger? Wouldn’t that give him that little extra we might need when things get rough?

It may. It may not. Personally I don’t feel much sympathy for him since resenful politicians are likely to end up in creating conflicts instead of steering away from them or transforming them into something better.

But I’m not willing to share the opinion that just because he messed things up he shouldn’t get a second chance. Even when there’s a lot at stake.

Call me stupid, call me naive. That’s what I think.

And you?

Just a little afterthought: I like to believe that leaders aren’t born as leaders, they become leaders and remain leaders during the act of leading.

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2 thoughts on “The advantage of a PM who has failed

  1. boskabout says:

    I agree with you about deserving a second chance. But not about the premisse of he being to blame for the failure.

    Do you blame the teacher for having “difficult” little kids in his course?

  2. CoCreatr says:

    In decades of company experience, managers who failed and got a second chance more often than not emerged true leaders. Those who did not learn were replaced quickly. Politicians?

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