2 days to go and it’s the general election here in the UK. This time around the character of the leaders seems to have raised prominence compared to previous years. Now that could just be my memory; and from conversations over the last few weeks some people seem to be at odds with the fact that character leadership is playing a role as opposed to the focus being about policies.
So why is the character of the party leaders so prevalent and been commented on so much? I think the answer can be summed up by the word Trust.
Trust – We trust people who are authentic or genuine and have the skills to do what they say they’re going to do. In other words it’s a combination of character and competence.
Competence – The skills to carry out the task required. Each of us will be looking at the parties and their leaders and making an assessment, do we think the leader is competent to do the job.
Gordon Brown has had a chance to demonstrate his leadership skills as a prime minister, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both yet to prove themselves.
Which leaves us with character. This is the personality of the leader, but it’s also their values and beliefs. What does this person stand for? We don’t have to like them, this isn’t about looking for a new friend. Rather it’s whether or not I believe that this person’s values, beliefs and traits are the right ones to lead and represent our country’s needs in conversations with other PM’s and Presidents. The final check is and do I believe they will walk this talk, be authentic and act with integrity in the face of danger and war. Or are they going to have a personality transplant depending on who they’re with and what’s going on, and whether they’re miked up, or not.
Each party has had the traditional marketing campaign:-
– Why you should choose me to represent you for the next 4 years.
– Why I’m trustworthy enough to be responsible for something as immense as a country.
– What improvements do we commit to make over those 4 years.
– How do we plan do make these improvements happen.
And depending on what you’re looking for you’ll get to decide just how credible they’ve been in getting this message across.
This year I suspect that rather than the nuances of who’s committing to do exactly what with the NHS, National debt, etc. it’s going to be about who do we trust to do the right thing. We live in ever increasing change, they could promise one thing today and then something happens the other side of the world and it’s all change. We wouldn’t expect them to keep going with a promise if it was now the clear path to fiscal suicide (or what ever). We’re looking for the leader with the character to be fearlessly authentic and lead with integrity. Why is this so important, because we’ve witnessed several experiences where the values of a leader have been at odds with how they were portrayed or what we expected, and we as a nation have paid a price. The banks, and the Iraq war are two significant experiences. As an aside, recently in the sporting arena we have Tiger Woods and John Terry. The backlash isn’t so much about their infidelity rather these people were seen as role models. Being the captain of the England squad is a high profile and responsible position, it isn’t just about football, the football is the competence aspect of the trust equation, it’s also about their character. Of course there also still ripples from various ministers and their expense claims.
We could ignore the past, we could ignore the impact of character, but I think that would be to the detriment of our country. So then who do you think is the UK’s equivalent of Obama, our hope for the future of the UK?