It seems it’s challenging to find good leadership

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I have been a follower of Phil Ruthven founder and director of IBISWorld since I don’t know when as he is an astute businessman with formidable skills as a forecaster and strategist. Today his regular Newsletter crossed my desk; the opening sentence captured my attention “Fifteen years into the new century, it is hard to find good leadership in many of the world’s 230 nations. It’s just as scarce among the 34 largely developed economies in the OECD……” He is saying what most of us are thinking.

He qualifies what good leadership means “we don’t mean who’s popular in the polls. History shows that popularity has nothing to do with good government. Heads of state and many ministers are often lacking in knowledge, vision, wisdom, courage and salesmanship to lead voters and economies. But they can still be popular.” It gave me cause to pause and think about leadership in an organisational context; are there some parallels?

Quoting from IBISWorld Research he listed fifteen qualities that a well led nation needs:

1. Safety (from external or internal threats, terrorism or anarchy)
2. Cohesive secular society (free of religious, ethnic, or any discrimination)
3. Democratic government (with compulsory voting?)
4. A mostly happy and caring society (with welfare for the needy)
5. A healthy, well-educated and increasingly cultured population
6. A proud, unique and fun-loving nation (but free of jingoism)
7. Continual reform (social, economic and political)
8. Full employment (unemployment 5% or less)
9. Economic growth and rising standard of living (2% pa or more)
10. Low inflation (less than 3%)
11. Fair interest rates (to depositors and borrowers alike, around 5% real)
12. Productivity growth (around 2% pa)
13. A strong exchange rate
14. Balanced government budgets (low national debt, less than 35% of GDP)
15. A positive current account with the world (paying our own way)

While these fifteen qualities would be expressed using different terminology in an organisational context, nevertheless they are a reasonable checklist that leaders of well led companies should still be able to compare their company against. I did the exercise for our organisation and we are able to place a definite tick against eleven out of the fifteen.

He contends that Australia as a nation gets to tick most of the above 15 points and cites our risk averseness to change, reform, and renewal as our Achilles heel. However in the past it has taken a wakeup call, such as recession, to snap governments of either persuasion out of their complacency – our experience is the same is true for companies.

In organisations, rather than wait to receive the wakeup call in whatever form it takes, leaders need to make sure they have a comprehensive list of issues they are addressing to ensure measured reform, change, and renewal, is occurring.

If you want to read Phil’s March Newsletter follow this link

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