Monday, February 19, 2007
Honesty, trust and the grapevine
Don't get me wrong; I'm delighted she consults (as if it matters whether I approve or not!) and it's good to know what is the word on the street, or at least the word that reaches her. But given that one instinct here is to try to look good by making others look bad, defensive criticism is rather a common currency, and some of the more negative stuff that comes back to me about Massar is really not worthy of her consideration. It's also the case that rather than sort out issues (which always crop up) between the managers concerned, people here always send things up the pipe until they come to a point of shared responsibility. They discharge their own responsibility to sort the prolem our by reporting it to their manager. For almost all non-governmental projects, that means Ministers and Governors getting issues fed up to them and they of course raise them with the First Lady's office, and she then with me. So, however trivial, they are immediately given substance, and take on the appearance of exceptional problems rather than the normal bumps that any project encounters and has to work through.
I am fighting against the desire to Do Unto Others in this respect. There is one trusted advisor to Mrs A with whom we are having quite a lot of dealings at the moment. She is universally regarded as someone only out for herself, who starts up projects that make her look good but doesn't stick with them, doesn't keep her word, and she is making mischief for us. Yet the First Lady trusts her implicitly and won't hear a word against her. So I smile and keep quiet.
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