Thursday 10 December
1 In the recipe of what makes a good leader there are many ingredients. Self-awareness is one. The innate ability to know who you are and what your capabilities and limitations are. The need to have the aptitude to motivate people with your vision.
Often the art of leadership is the ability to bring those otherwise opposed to your view, to accept it. Or compromise when the situation demands it.
It is also about delegation, empathy and understanding. It can also require from time to time the making of unpopular decisions. Decisions like going to war. However, when they consistently imply the leaders own morality and spiritual beliefs they are more akin to autocracy.
Most leaders want to be popular but some will forego it for power. Getting things done for the common good is also a fine trait of an excellent leader. Another important feature of leadership is the ability to be able to change one’s mind when circumstances change. Together with the skill to explain ‘why’ after listening to the views of others.
To break a promise or change one’s mind in order to serve the common good should be viewed as courageous leadership rather than a sign of weakness. Having the grace to say “I was wrong” is another quality rarely seen.
Above all, great leaders know that humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. But it is truth that enables human progress.
Tony Abbott, in his opinion piece for News Corp ably demonstrated why he failed as a leader.
Abbott is a very divisive force. His leadership was based on the assumption that lies repeated would eventually become truth. That confrontation displayed strength of character and it alone would win an argument. If I shout loud enough I will be heard.
In his piece he seeks to blame a whole religion for the actions of a minority of extremists. It reflects his ‘confrontation solves all’ attitude to life in general. Turnbull fire back with; “The simple fact of the matter is the vast majority of Muslims are as appalled by these acts of extremism as we are“.
There is nothing wrong in suggesting that Islam needs reform, but to do so whilst at the same time his own church condemns homosexuality, (defining it as disordered) doesn’t allow women to control over their own fertility and, as Kristina Keneally reports; “tells divorced people that they have failed as Christians – even if the marriage was abusive or if their spouse was cheating on them – and denies them access to the sacraments“.
A church that for decades has condoned the abuse of children. Only a person who thinks he has some sort of macabre ownership on righteousness could suggest that another religion needs reform.
All it displays is Islamophobia of the worst kind and an incapacity for deep reflection. A hatred for all things other than those ideals derived from an indoctrination by Catholicism.
Indeed, a church led by very old men wearing dresses with no experience of consensual love is also in need of reform.
Sound judgement is also a prerequisite for good leadership. In saying that he would have won the next election, that his first budget was a fair one (when it was judged by all sections of the community as the most unfair ever) and only lasting two years as leader – that he has a legacy to protect – it’s all the Senate’s fault, confirms what little judgement he had.
The notion that he spoke to most Australians is nonsense. What he did was to talk to a very, very small group within the Australian community who have views that aren’t consistent with a pluralist, modern, twenty-first century, multicultural nation. The polls showed this and it’s why he lost the leadership. The conundrum in Australian politics is that the public has one idea of what a leader should be but the conservative parties have another.
Abbott lost his leadership because he had none of the aforementioned leadership characteristics that Australians see as desirable.
As a moderate leader Malcolm Turnbull now finds himself the leader of a party that wants to be very much to the right. As a leader he does have some of the aforementioned qualities, however, they in themselves are not necessarily of a rightest mould. In his interview with Leigh Sales he showed a propensity for self-indulgence. He was not up to scratch with detail, expected Sales to be conciliatory, and wanted to impose his own version of leadership spin without the slogans.
To quote Sean Kelly:
‘The first and most worrying thing from the 7.30 interview is that the PM seemed to have scant detail about his own innovation statement, announced earlier that day. This is supposed to be his bailiwick: a technology announcement by a man who loves technology, support offered to entrepreneurs by the nation’s best-known entrepreneur.’
There are those political leaders who have a sagacious gift for detail. In my experience no one surpassed former Prime Minister Howard. He consumed facts and figures with a childlike appetite for rice bubbles at breakfast. There was not much else I liked about him but his grasp of the finer points of policy were formidable. So too did Hawke, Keating and Beasley who I would rate next to Howard. Brendan Nelson also had an impressive mind for the fine print.
Turnbull in 2012 said:
‘I am not suggesting politicians are innately less accurate or truthful than anyone else. But rather that the system is not constraining, in fact it is all too often rewarding, spin, exaggeration, misstatements … Dumbing down complex issues into sound bites, misrepresenting your or your opponent’s policy does not respect “Struggle Street”, it treats its residents with contempt … Call me idealistic if you like, but we have a greater need than ever for informed and honest debate.’
As a leader he will have to show more than just charm and pleasantness. He will have to show substance.
2 The Newspoll result in yesterday’s Australian which is presumably the last for the year, has the Coalition’s two-party lead unchanged at 53-47, from primary votes of 45% for the Coalition (down one), 33% for Labor (steady) and 12% for the Greens (up one). However, Malcolm Turnbull’s personal ratings have taken a knock, with approval down eight to 52% and disapproval up eight to 30%. Bill Shorten’s ratings plumb new depths with a three-point drop in approval to 23%, while disapproval is up four to 61%. Turnbull’s lead over Shorten as preferred prime minister is down slightly, from 64-15 to 60-14.
The penultimate Essential Research fortnightly average for the year is unchanged at 51-49 to the Coalition, from primary votes of Coalition 44% (steady), Labor 36% (up one) and Greens 11% (steady). Also featured are the monthly leadership ratings, which fail to back up Newspoll’s reported slide for both Malcolm Turnbull, who is at 56% approval (steady) and 23% disapproval (up three), and Bill Shorten, who is unchanged at 27% approval and 47% disapproval. Turnbull’s preferred prime minister lead is at 55-15.
3 Donald Trump is now advocating closing all mosques, deporting all immigrants, abandoning refugees and now censoring the internet. Where will it end?
There is an abundance of psychiatrists in the US. I suggest he seeks one of the best. He appears to be an extremely sick man.
4 Meanwhile in Paris Australia’s inglorious position at the bottom of the developed world’s ranking on climate change policy comes in sharp contrast to the triumphant rhetoric of Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Paris.
The fact that Australia has been rated third last out of the 58 countries assessed reveals the extent of the Turnbull Government’s climate hypocrisy.
Last week the Prime Minister himself was in Paris championing Australia’s efforts at meeting our climate change targets early. And this week Minister Hunt has gone out of his way to talk up the positive response that Australia’s representatives have received at Paris. “We’re meeting and beating our targets,” he said. Bullshit we are.
5 Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs says Malcolm Turnbull has welcomed her back into the corridors of power. Good to have another voice of reason but the neo cons won’t be happy.
MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
‘The ideas of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow’.
PS: My thanks to those of you who share my posts on Facebook. You make it all very worthwhile.