Instead I want to spend some time looking at political leadership. Speaking for myself (I am not seeking to pretend this is some kind of objective academic list, even though I have I specialised in leadership, organisational transformation & social change for most of my career), I would say that great political leaders:
- Provide hope
- Provide direction
- Provide the ways by which all people can dream and realise those ambitions
- Lead from the front but also...
- Know when to step back and empower others
- Provide evidence of their empathy & understanding
- Make principled stands against powerful interests
- Are unfailingly courteous, treating everyone with great respect
- Listen twice as much as they talk
- Risk unpopularity when pursuing what is right
- Pay particular attention to those whose voices are quiet and often not heard
- Know that glossy charisma is no substitute for deep integrity
- Aim to become more like themselves
- React to events but not be overwhelmed by them
- Make people laugh and smile
- Help people who don't, feel good about themselves
- Make the political weather...
I could go on.
Very few, if any, political leaders tick all these boxes. And even if they do, being in power, sometimes means a few boxes get 'un-ticked', as it were.
In my opinion, Ed is ticking the vast majority of these boxes at the moment. Therefore in my book he is a great political leader. But leadership is in the eyes in the beholder: it is a status earned not claimed. In part (since Ed is only part of the political package on offer), all this will be tested next May.
I think the omens are still that not only will the existing PM and coalition government lose the next general election, but Ed and the Labour Party will win it too.
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