Leadership and Politicians


Much is talked about leadership in business. In pursuit of this Holy Grail of success characteristics, I interviewed 80 chief executives both here and across the Atlantic, men and women, public and private sector for my book Fast Track to the Top.

There was remarkable agreement about what characteristics had made them successful but these thoughts are not so much about the group who participated but more about those who did not take part.

I had asked a number of MPs if they would like to be interviewed stating that the book was about helping and inspiring young people on their path to business success. None was willing to take part, the majority saying that they had never been involved in business and certainly not leading one. This set me wondering if the leadership that took you to the top in business would be the same for politics and if it were, should we not be rating our candidates accordingly.

Surely leading a country is at least as important as running a business

And yet we tend to judge candidates on one good speech if we are lucky, how they look in a newspaper or even worse party affiliation. How good would they be in a crisis, how would they problem solve or relate to their constituents? Frankly we rarely know.

My suggestion is that we the public should demand more information about their skills and abilities perhaps along the lines of. They are as follows:

  1. problem solve
  2. deliver the goods
  3. want to win
  4. relate
  5. have a successful team
  6. know how to de-stress
  7. love change
  8. know yourself
  9. the ability to strike a deal 
  10. to be confident

Fast Track’s

10 Commandments for success as voted for by 80 CEOs Click to Tweet

Perhaps at interview they could be rated on this scale, providing examples of mastery in these areas. In addition they could role-play how they handle difficult situations, reveal in group discussion their breadth of interests and knowledge and how also they might deal with an upset constituent.

I am beginning to warm to my subject.

I can just imagine them all completing psychometric tests to provide speedy insights into their skills and behaviour. The vision comes to mind of standing in your polling booth reading the reports before putting your cross at the name of your choice.

And once they are ensconced in Parliament how do we know if they ever update their skills?  CIPD for politicians. What a thought!

We have developed a series of monthly sessions or a shorter programme of master classes entitled Fast Track to the Top which identifies high potential talent through profiling and assessment.