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Leadership: Learning from politicians, you can’t be a person for all seasons.

By March 13, 2015 No Comments

I do Crisis PR; don’t ask me to sell booze or lipstick!

Want a consultant, or a new employee? One of the hardest parts of leadership is assembling a team. Will they ‘fit’? And when I start with a new client, will I fit?

The thing about people is you can’t quickly reverse-design: work out what the market wants and tailor yourserlf accordingly. Not like we can with a car of a can of soft drink. We can’t, as PR people, mould ourselves beyong a point. We’ve only so much elasticity, some less than others.

Leadership

Leadership (c/- Google Images)

This is an unassailable wisdom. It’s why we say, ‘hire for values, train for skills’. It’s why we also say ‘ relationship first, business second’. It’s why Jim Collins (author: Good to Great) says ‘get the right people on the bus’.

We can learn a lot by watching poll-driven politicians fail. As in PR, a politician can’t be a person for all seasons. You can’t identify a way to stay ahead and the bend to that task. With social media and poll driven politics that kind of leadership is the temptation.

But also with social media and the associated, almost unlimited, access to information,  it’s too easy for the rest of us to see through falsehood. We forget what little access we had to information about our politicians before about 2004.

If Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten cannot, or, are not brave enough to define what they stand for, and stickLeadership to it, how can we be expected to engage? We thought we knew Abbott (conservative, religious. etc), but he’s flip-flopped himself out of an identity. Shorten? Well the hope and promise was that with his leadership we would see a re-design of Labor? Where did that one go? Instead we’re getting grey upon biege.

What do we need?

As I said, we can learn a lot from politicians. Whether we are electing or recruiting, step one is knowing what we want; step two is finding the right person. And getting behind the façade to the value-drivers can be really hard.

 

Peter Wilkinson

Author Peter Wilkinson

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