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This Research Café, organised jointly by the Daedalus Trust and the Centre for the Study of Democracy, provides an opportunity to explore areas for interdisciplinary research on leadership, organisational well-being and, in particular, political leadership in a democracy. This is the fourth in a series of Daedalus Trust Research Cafés where we hope to engage in a conversation to explore the following questions and themes:

  • What is good leadership in a democracy?
  • How have democracies identified, managed and contained hubristic leaders?
  • Are there adequate structures and processes to “bind, shackle and brake” democratic leaders without inhibiting their ability to give of their best?
  • What drives hubris? Historical, cultural, social, organisational and neurological aspects.

In difficult times, nations, businesses and other social institutions require leaders who are confident, assertive and prepared to take risks. What processes might be employed to guard against degeneration into hubris? What distinguishes charisma from hubris? These themes will be introduced in brief presentations to be given by three speakers with unrivalled knowledge and experience in their fields:

The Rt Hon Lord Owen, CH FRCP is a doctor by training and was neurology and psychiatric registrar at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, before becoming a Research Fellow. He then entered politics and in Labour Governments served as Navy Minister, Health Minister and Foreign Secretary. He co-founded the Social Democratic Party and was its leader from 1983-1990. From 1992-1995 he served as EU peace negotiator in the former Yugoslavia. He now sits as a Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords. He has business interests in the US, Russia and the UK. Lord Owen has long been interested in the inter-relationship between politics and medicine and the key books and articles are ‘Hubris Syndrome: An Acquired Personality Disorder?’, Brain 2009, In Sickness and In Power: Illness in Heads of Government during the last 100 years (revised edition, 2011), The Hubris Syndrome (revised edition, 2012) and ‘Hubris in leadership: A peril of unbridled intuition?’, Leadership 2013. He is a founder and Trustee of the Daedalus Trust.

Sir Bob Reid is Chairman of ICE Futures and ICE Clear Europe. He is a Director of Intercontinental Exchange Inc., Diligenta Limited, Jubilant Energy and EEA Helicopter Operations. He is Chairman of the Foundation for Young Musicians, Learning Through Landscapes and Edinburgh Business School. He joined Shell in 1956 and spent much of his career overseas, including posts in Brunei, Nigeria, Thailand and Australia. He was Chairman and Chief Executive of Shell UK Limited from 1985 until he retired in 1990. He was also Chairman of British Rail and Deputy Governor of the Bank of Scotland until he retired in 2004. He was born in Cupar, Fife. Sir Bob is an advisor to the Daedalus Trust.

Lord Bikhu Parekh is Emeritus professor of political philosophy in the universities of Westminster and Hull and a Labour Member of the House of Lords. He is the author of several widely acclaimed books of political philosophy; a recipient of the Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Political Philosophy and the holder of over a dozen honorary Doctorates. Lord Parekh was chair of the Runnymede Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (1998-2000), whose report, The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, was published in 2000. He is vice-chairman of the Gandhi Foundation, a trustee of the Anne Frank Educational Trust and a member of the National Commission on Equal Opportunity. His academic interests include political philosophy, the history of political thought, social theory, ancient and modern Indian political thought, and the philosophy of ethnic relations.

If you would like to attend, please email [email protected]. Early application is recommended as numbers are limited and invitations will be issued on a strictly first-come-first-served basis.