In terms of new leadership, we all know that the first hundred days is meant to be the most important. If our followers can’t see effective change happening in that time-scale they begin to lose heart.
The media has been full of assessment for Ed Miliband’s first century. So far, not so good it seems; a pretty mixed response – though election results at Oldham East must be some cause for celebration.
Ed Miliband seems to be a very clever chap but has he got the life experience to be a good leader? Is he fit for purpose?
Listening to the reports, I was reminded of the reportage during the Labour Party Leadership election campaign. I was struck by one particular item on Radio 4. The journalist covering the Party Conference went in search of the ‘real Ed Miliband’.
He asked a number of Miliband jnr supporters to share one interesting personal detail about Ed. I learnt that he’s clever but very little of any insight emerged; the best anyone could come up with was a comment regarding his Mallen-like streak of white-grey hair…scarcely an ‘interesting personal detail in my book; maybe I’m picky!
So, Ed’s bright - but is intelligence enough?
And what makes a good leader anyway?
It’s a topic close to our hearts here at Acanthus Associates; it’s something we talk about a lot; we have created a Leadership Programme and we work consistently with developing leaders so we feel it’s an important debate.
So, what do we look for in a great leader?
Being authentic is a big part of it - according to consistent feedback, both academic and anecdotal. But what does being ‘authentic’ mean? At Acanthus Associates we take a holistic approach. By that I mean that we’re interested in the whole person. Some of the most impressive leaders we’ve worked with are ‘joined up’ as people; you really get the sense that, fundamentally, they’re the same person at work and at play. And they have a finely-tuned balance between confidence and humility; they’re comfortable with the fact that they’re not brilliant at everything and they know how to build a great team around them.
There’s one other thing; great leaders recognise that there’s strength in vulnerability because when we care about something passionately, it exposes us to personal risk. Great leaders are passionate about their cause. How they share that passion authentically with their followers is one of the keys to their success.
I don’t know Ed Miliband personally but I imagine he feels pretty passionate about his cause. Does he convey it with authenticity?
It’s a challenge for all of us and something you might like to think about: How authentic are you?
If you’re not sure, you might like to ask yourself this question:
How did you get to be the person you are today?
Take some time to think about the people and experiences that have shaped you.
This exercise is the foundation stone in understanding the basis of your personal power as a leader. The next step is how to articulate it with power and passion…but that’s for another time.
And Ed…if you’re reading…give it a go.
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