Posted by: davidjmarlow | 13/07/2011

Looking for inspiration? Watch a good TV crime thriller…

There has been a fair amount of debate recently on the leadership qualities needed for public bodies in current challenging circumstances. Local Government Chronicle (LGC) has even launched a Future Leaders Network. If you want an alternative view on leadership, however, my advice is to watch a good TV crime thriller.

Last night (12th July 2011) I was watching the CSI double episode where Grissom catches a serial killer; says goodbye to his team; and then departs for a new life in Costa Rica. Grissom’s strengths are his technical expertise and detailed understanding of what evidence is telling him. He is much less convincing on interpersonal relations and work/life balance – hence his need to travel thousands of miles to (presumably) finally find happiness with his love interest from several series back.

At its best, CSI’s technical mastery is impressive and watchable. With ‘Law and Order’, on the other hand, I generally find the ‘Order’ half of the programme formulaic and irritating. However, some of the moral complexities with which the legal team grapple are genuinely thought-provoking – often around public policy themes that are of real contemporary relevance.

A third series I enjoy is Silent Witness. In some ways, this contains elements of both CSI’s forensic detail and ‘Law and Order’s’ moral ambiguities. What really distinguishes it, though, is the personal commitment of the Pathologists to ensuring the story of their ‘Silent Witnesses’ is heard, and in how this involvement shapes them as individuals.

Technical mastery, understanding evidence, recognising ambiguities that means there is not always a ‘right answer’, and being shaped personally by the issues we are seeking to resolve – these are certainly part of a leadership agenda for the future; as is finding inspiration and insight in the most unexpected of places…

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