Our December breakfast roundtable was led by Robert Rowland Smith, faculty member at The School of Life, discussing the future of leadership, and how this can be identified.
Rowland Smith highlighted psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who argued that leadership is all about the projection – the screen you create onto which your audience will ascribe anything you want – referencing President Donald Trump.
“How have we arrived at a leader who counters everything we consider a leader to be?” he asked, adding that Trump has the ability to elicit strong positive and negative reactions. For Rowland Smith, Trump triggers all three Freudian types:
1 Ego – wish fulfilment; uncensored and unfiltered – Trump seems liberated to say anything he wants, and this appeals to the public who have shown they feel alienated by the establishment
2 Superego – Trump is the sugar daddy who will sort out all the problems in the US
3 Unconscious ego – where all of our repressed thoughts go – Trump taps into the unspoken, repressed and the invisible.
“If you look beyond extreme comments from Trump supporters, it’s clear people want change,” Rowland Smith said. He then questioned whether Trump’s catchphrase “make America great again” reassured his supporters that change would happen.
The looming prospect of Brexit was also discussed, echoing the same desire for change, but with one key point of difference: “Trump’s presidency will eventually end, Brexit is permanent,” said Rowland Smith – giving delegates serious food for thought.