Do people in the UK vote for policies or personalities?

With the first of the leadership debates to be televised tomorrow, it will be interesting to see the impact it has on voting intentions.

We have two different types of characters in Gordon Brown and David Cameron, with Nick Clegg having a great opportunity to make an impression on a TV audience that is perhaps not as familiar with him as it is with the first two party leaders.

The leadership qualities they can demonstrate will have a huge impact in the way people choose to vote, as people tend to want to associate with people who have similar ideals and values as themselves. A leader must be able to communicate his vision in terms that cause followers to buy into it. He  must communicate clearly and passionately, as passion is contagious.

A good leader must have the discipline to work toward his vision single-mindedly, as well as to direct their actions and those of their party toward the goal.  A leader does not suffer “analysis paralysis” but is always doing something in pursuit of the vision, inspiring others to do the same.

Some of the qualities to look out for are:

Integrity A person of integrity is the same on the outside and on the inside. Such an individual can be trusted because he never veers from inner values, even when it might seem useful to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers and therefore must display integrity.

Honest dealings, predictable reactions, well-controlled emotions, and an absence of tantrums and harsh outbursts are all signs of integrity. Such leaders will be more approachable by followers.

Dedication A leader inspires dedication by example, doing whatever it takes to complete the next step toward the vision. By setting an excellent example, leaders can show followers that there are no nine-to-five jobs on the team, only opportunities to achieve something great.

Magnanimity A magnanimous leader ensures that credit for successes is spread as widely as possible throughout the company. Conversely, a good leader takes personal responsibility for failures. This sort of reverse magnanimity helps other people feel good about themselves and draws the team closer together. To spread the fame and take the blame is a hallmark of effective leadership.

Leaders with humility recognize that they are no better or worse than other members of the team. A humble leader is not self-effacing but rather tries to elevate everyone. Leaders with humility also understand that their status does not make them a god.

Openness means being able to listen to new ideas, even if they do not conform to the usual way of thinking. Good leaders are able to suspend judgment while listening to others’ ideas, as well as accept new ways of doing things that someone else thought of. Openness builds mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers, and it also keeps the team well supplied with new ideas that can further its vision.

Creativity is the ability to think differently, to get outside of the box that constrains solutions. Creativity gives leaders the ability to see things that others have not seen and thus lead followers in new directions. The most important question that a leader can ask is, “What if … ?”

Fairness means dealing with others consistently and justly. A leader must check all the facts and hear everyone out before passing judgment. He must avoid leaping to conclusions based on incomplete evidence. When people feel they that are being treated fairly, they reward a leader with loyalty and dedication.

Assertiveness The ability to clearly state what one expects so that there will be no misunderstandings. A leader must be assertive to get the desired results. Along with assertiveness comes the responsibility to clearly understand what followers expect from their leader.

Sense of humour Effective leaders know how to use humour to energize followers. Humour is a form of power that provides some control over the work environment. The use of humour also helps relieve tension and defuse hostility

While the above are qualities found in all good leaders, I think it will also be interesting to see who “acts the part” of the next Prime Minister. In previous companies I have worked at you could usually accurately forecast who would be the next manager as they tended to exhibit the behaviour expected of a manger. Their opinions were respected by their peer group, and they exerted an influence over others through their actions, attitudes and views – they walked the talk.

It will be interesting to see whether Gordon, David or Nick are walking the talk tomorrow!

On the other hand, if you think people vote for policies not personalities here is a link you should check out:

Tell us if your preconceptions of how you think you will vote match the feedback you get from the site. 🙂

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One Response to Do people in the UK vote for policies or personalities?

  1. Great Blog post Michael.

    I’m not sure I can answer the question posed but I have an observation about the photographs at the top of this page. Cameron is wearing a red tie and Brown is wearing a blue tie.

    Whilst on the face of it there is a good deal of dissatisfaction with the current administration there is also a realisation that during the last recession the incumbent Conservative government were unable to manage the economy at all. Interest rates went to 15%, homes were repossessed and we entered a long period of decline. For the 40 some-things – those that are most likely to – vote the memories are fresh and real.

    Whilst we may joke about Gordon Brown being fully responsible for all the ills of the world it seems to me that it would be less of a joke if an inexperienced Tory administration took up the reins. My bet is that the fresh faced Mr Cameron will need to be patient for a few more years because, in the secrecy of the polling booth, I doubt that many of the voting 40 some-things want a return to rocketing interest rates, unemployment, and the ghost town’s of Thatcher and Major’s 80’s .

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