Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tony Blair - A Journey

You may know that I'm on a drive to read mostly old books this year. However, before Christmas I started reading Tony Blair's autobiography, A Journey, which I have just finished and which I have to admit I really enjoyed. I'm not sure I was expecting to find it such an interesting read, but whatever you think of Tony Blair he is a fascinating character. As I read it I was particularly challenged as I reflected on my own leadership. Things that really struck me were:

  • The reality that leaders have to make decisions. Actually in his time as Prime Minister he made some very good decisions (over issues such as Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Sierra Leone) as well as some which many would now question (Iraq or Afghanistan for instance). However, as a leader you can't escape the fact that after having heard the facts, you have to make a choice and then stand or fall on the choices you make.
  • Not being able to "do God" when he was in charge. I'm so grateful to be in a leadership position where I can "do God", and in fact couldn't begin to imagine doing what I do without "doing God" in a very public way.
  • The dysfunctional relationship with Gordon Brown at the heart of his team. Made me feel so grateful for the fabulous team I have around me, and the way we can be open, disagree, laugh and cry together, but at the end of the day all be pulling in the same direction to achieve the same goal.
  • The seriousness of leadership. For Tony Blair the decisions he made meant life or death for some of our armed forces - that's an incredible responsibility. But the decisions I make can have eternal consequences - in many ways that's an even bigger responsibility.
  • The wisdom which has come from his years in government. I found the last chapter of the book particularly compelling as he reflects on the problems we face in the world today, and the steps we need to take to resolve them. We must never stop learning from the wisdom of those who have already been there and done it - which leads me back into reading more old books!
Definitely worth reading, although given it's size I wish I'd had the Kindle version!


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