The word "leadership" is currently featuring ad nauseam in the UK media.
Because Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called an election.
Ever taken a time out to watch the weekly UK Prime Minister's Questions? This gives both his own party and opposition members of parliament the opportunity to question the PM. The leader of the opposition gets to question at length.
There's a lot of posturing and stage management. And there's a lot of point scoring about leadership; everything is about the right leadership. The accusations come thick and fast:
"The PM cannot lead his political party."
"The PM cannot lead the country."
There are of course, parallels between this situation and corporate life. There are always dissenting grumbles that the CEO cannot lead his Board or senior managers, or that the CEO cannot lead his company.
What emerges from all of this? First, the PM — the CEO, the leader — cannot manage all the personalities and activity undertaken in his party or company. He or she will never win over all hearts and minds. There will always be dissent, and there will never be enough energy or hours in the day.
The trick is to devote your leadership energy to those who count… whose minds are open and who want to go in your direction. Others will follow or fall by the wayside. And the trick is to focus on the issues and initiatives that matter. Others will by nature resolve themselves or prove to be the non-issues that they actually are.
And the other trick is to be very thick-skinned. A thicker skin makes bigger winners. Looking at my weight I must have gotten that wrong one way or another.
It could—and probably will—be the thickest skin that wins the UK election because that person will be losing the least sleep over dissenting voices.