And so to the queue of people telling us that they want to be the next Prime Minister. Faced by an electorate baffled and bewildered and downright angry about the state of political leadership in this country.
Here’s my list of ten things I want from the people who want me to follow them – a list against which to measure those who seek to lead:
(1) Leadership is service
The first responsibility of a leader is to serve. Before anything else, to serve.
(2) Leadership is sacrifice
The greatest leaders are the ones who believe in something greater than themselves – and who are prepared to spend themselves in that cause.
(3) Leadership is courage
I find myself returning often to that Aaron Sorkin line from the film, The American President: “I was so busy keeping my job, that I forgot to do my job”. Leadership demands courage. I mean moral courage. I mean the insistence on doing the right thing, regardless of the personal costs or consequences.
(4) Leadership is truth
Leaders must tell the truth. Always.
(5) Leadership is listening
Two ears, one mouth – to be used in those proportions. In a world where people seem intent only on shouting at one another from progressively further apart, the ability to listen has become more important than ever before.
(6) Leadership is clarity
Everything can’t be a priority. If everything is a priority, then nothing is. Leaders need to be clear about the things that matter more.
(7) Leadership is consistency
Once a leader has understood and articulated the things that really matter, they need to hold fast to them, rather than bending with every new hint of a breeze.
(8) Leadership is hope
It was Napoleon who reportedly once said, “Leaders must be dealers in hope”. And he was right (about that at least). We don’t need the people in charge to tell us that we’re lost; we need them to show us the way home. We need them to display the audacity of hope.
(9) Leadership is saying sorry
Because we all make a mess of it sometimes.
(10) Leadership is love
To lead people is to love them.