Noah’s ark, Moshe Dayan and your typical business leader

Yesterday, Jews around the world read Chapter 6 of Genesis, which describes Noah as a righteous man of his generation. He got the ark job done and saved the human race.

Many commentators probe deeper. When you think about his struggles with booze afterwards or compare him to Abraham, the man’s star is suddenly not so bright. He is not a shining example to others. is he? 

I wonder how Noah would fare in today’s Western society. Consider how he took on board the warnings of doom, how he prepared as he was instructed and how he survived pretty well. That points to a lot of different skills as well as self motivation. Admirable characteristics in any leader.

And whilst reading about Noah in the Synagogue, I found myself thinking about Moshe Dayan. If anybody represents the early successes of Israel, it is this former chief of staff, Minister of Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs. A hero figure, yes?

In the past few days, official documents have been released, which appear to show that in the run up to the 1973 Yom Kippur war, he and Prime Minister Golda Meir badly misjudged the intentions of the Arab countries, almost to the point of defeat.

We have to be careful. Not all the evidence is available, but it does seem he performed very poorly at the worst moment. There again, the military battle was eventually won, as he achieved on many previous occasions. He went on to prepare the peace treaty with Egypt, and without American prior knowledge. Was he really such a disappointment?

My point is this. In today’s immediate society, we are quick to condemn those that fail or do not perform up to expectations. We hack them down like wilted flowers. In politics that may be an unwritten rule of the game.

In business, that attitude can be disastrous. Experience is so important when trying to create a successful hierarchy of decision makers. Few will succeed all the time, especially when you have need to take unorthodox decisions in order to reach your vision.

In other words, it is easy to destroy business leaders. It is a rare skill that appreciates their talents for the long term.

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