7. What Does Good Leadership Look Like?
By considering ‘what good looks like’ for leadership, it might be possible to make an objective judgement about the LibDem leadership’s policy u-turn.
To do so, we need to consider the question in two ways:
- what are the hallmarks of effective leadership within the organisation itself?
- what are the hallmarks of effective leadership in the environment in which the organisation operates?
8. Effective Leadership within the Organisation
Some of the more commonly observed features of organisations with a ‘high leadership quotient’ are as follows:
- Innovation and change are embraced and risks are taken;
- Purpose and direction are increasingly clear and understood;
- Belief in the organisation matures and deepens;
- Individual and organisational goals overlap or even coincide;
- External issues and concerns increasingly overshadow introspection;
- The organisation’s reputation increasingly develops as an asset;
- Energy increases but without simply consuming more resources;
- Pride is taken in competitive performance and there is an appetite for improvement;
- Learning is valued and lessons are adopted.
Above all, it is relatively easy to get things done in, and by, these organisations.
In contrast, in organisations with a low leadership quotient, it is not possible to get anything done without massively disproportionate effort and endeavour.
So how does the LibDem leadership score against these criteria? What is the current state of the LibDem organisation?
- The LibDems are now in disarray, with only 54% of those who voted LibDem in May planning to do so at the next election (source: Sunday Telegraph poll, reported in the Independent);
- Policy direction is hotly disputed, with the LibDems deputy leader admitting there is ‘considerable anger that we’ve got ourselves in this position’;
- The party’s energies have been almost exclusively focused inwardly for the last month or so trying to deal with this anger;
- Innovation and risk – in the shape of the originally pledged tuition fees policy – has been eschewed in favour of pragmatic compromise;
- The party’s reputation is in tatters and pride in the party has taken an apologetic back-seat;
- Learning from the policy u-turn has been drowned out by endless and inconsistent attempts to rationalise the breaking of a promise.
Weighing against all this, the LibDem organisation has secured a share of power, and this power is being used: it can get things done.
But only at the cost of redefining the party’s purpose (as evidenced by its policies) and by undertaking a titanic internal struggle, which has left wounds which will take a long time to heal. This does not seem like a good exchange.