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Cath Everett

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UK political figures lack leadership qualities – study


While Virgin boss Richard Branson has topped a poll for apparently possessing the most impressive leadership qualities, the heads of the UK’s three main political parties all languished at the bottom.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown came last with a score of 4.5, followed by Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, at 5.2. David Cameron, head of the Conservative party, was positioned fourth from bottom with a rating of 5.66, scoring only marginally higher than French president, Nicolas Sarkozy at 5.44.

These are the findings of a survey called ‘Politics: leadership matters’ undertaken among 2,000 business leaders by management body, the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Respondents were asked to assess nine leaders from across the worlds of business and politics on the five fundamental aspects of leadership – ability, personal integrity, vision, communication and engagement – and an overall leadership score was generated based on the results.

Richard Branson was perceived as being the most capable manager, receiving a rating of 8.06. He was followed by US president Barack Obama on 7.76, while Karren Brady, vice chairman of West Ham United and German Chancellor Angela Merkel came in joint third at 6.2. Controversial media mogul Rupert Murdoch was fifth with a score of 5.83.

Penny de Valk, the ILM’s chief executive, said the results were a “damning indictment” of the leadership qualities of the three main UK political candidates. As a result, more than one in four managers were still undecided as to which party to vote for at the general election, which is expected to take place on 6 May.

“With over a quarter of managers still deciding how to vote, there’s still much to play for over the next few weeks, and public perceptions around their leadership qualities are going to be crucial,” de Valk said.

Although Gordon Brown scored badly on ‘personality’ aspects, in particular his ability to communicate and engage people, his integrity was seen as his strong point. Nick Clegg was likewise perceived to have integrity, but his score was hit by his lower profile and political inexperience. David Cameron, on the other hand, was considered to have strong communication skills but to lack integrity.