Saturday, 26 July 2008

Is Gordon Brown The Alpha Squirrel Monkey?

image credit - The Daily Mail

Followers of British politics will be familiar with the serious problems Gordon Brown seems to be having. The man who had a fearsome reputation seems to be coming unstuck and yet he still persists in claiming to be 'the right man for the job' despite dis confirming evidence.

So how can this behaviour be explained?

An analogy can drawn with the Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri Sciureus)a small primate that lives in central and south America.

Squirrel Monkey life is governed by hierarchies that were studied in the 1970s by Professor D.Ploog who noticed a very interesting fact about their behaviour. He noted that the most senior (alpha) male only reacted to threats to his position when they were communicated by the second in line (beta) male and he ignored and disbelieved communication of threat from monkeys lower down the hierarchy!

Hierarchies are, of course, a fundamental aspect of most social organisation. Even the egalitarian notion of Kibbutz resorted after time to natural hierarchy. They reflect our need for independence whilst at the same time having a need to belong, our need to co-operate and compete, our need to control and delegate, our need to lead and to follow, and our need to split activities up and to collaborate.

As you know, Hierarchies can be functional and dysfunctional. When they are dysfunctional they are a source of frustration, anger and misdirected effort. An example would be when the higher ranks blame the lower ranks for failures. Some management writers such as Bob Garret note how the people who are at the top of hierarchies operate from a mind-set that says 'I've Made It', which is directly tied to the Squirrel Monkey habit of 'Not Listening'.

Check out The Fish Rots From The Head for more.

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