Leadership, Politics and Private Enterprise

No matter your political predisposition, country of birth or current location, many of us have seen a dearth of good effective leaders in political circles.

 

It is not only in private enterprise that we have had the misfortune to see in recent years businesses ignore risk management, develop poor internal cultures and force us to question the value of salaries for some of the most prominent of CEO’s. Unfortunately this is apparent within politics also, particularly in Australia.

This is not a blog about political allegiance but rather a side-note to the need for political parties and individual politicians to start to develop a leadership mindset that is consistent with expectations and capabilities of the best organisations. Consistent with this ideal, Labor politician Bob Carr recently made a few interesting points on the ABC Lateline tv show that are worth highlighting.

I think we’ve got to take leadership training, tutoring, nurturing, more seriously than we do and every organisation in Australian society you’ve got a commitment to train, to coach, to mentor political leadership. Only the political parties think that you can muddle through with people who are never systematically trained for the challenge of being ministers, being a leader in opposition, having the skills and the talents, the disposition required to lead your party through tough times.

We don’t take it seriously. Mentoring, coaching and systematic training, the nurturing of high quality, highly promising leadership material is taken for granted in the corporate and the public sector world.

The only institutions, it strikes me, that don’t do it are political parties.

There’s not a training course held by the Labor Party or the Liberal Party for recruits, say people in their 20s, who have got the promise of being ministers. So we fluke it and we wonder why someone, when thrown into a ministerial role, or even sometimes into the leadership, the party in opposition finds himself or herself struggling. There’s no systematic development of the talents required and we’re unique among institutions in neglecting that.

So if our politicians, both existing and those aspiring to run are not focused on developing a suitable leadership skillset, then are we setting ourselves and our nations up for perennial failure and disappointment? To be fair, there are many leaders in all industries who spend too little time dedicated to their own growth and development, let alone that of their people. However, as politicians, the very nature and requirements of their roles provides ample opportunity to lead. In fact, it is an obligation of their role but one that is not taken as seriously as it should. The evidence is clear – it only takes the viewer a few minutes of watching parliament in action to understand that Mr Carr has a valid point.

Leadership is not given through role or title…it is earned through actions and results. This fact is the same the world over, no matter the culture, nation, organisation or political party. This is something our current and future politicians and corporate leaders in Australia and abroad would do well to remember.

The right to lead is one that is earned every day.

Apathy and tolerance have limited life.

 

Further Reading

Take me to your leader: Australia’s struggle to identify leadership – HCA Magazine