To lose one leader within eighteen days is a tragedy. To lose another after a disastrous General Election sounds like carelessness. To lose yet another after five further years of going nowhere indicates the job is beyond the capabilities of mortal beings. Yet mere mortals are the only beings available to fill the shoes of UKIP’s leader. So without waiting five years, change the job and make it doable by one or more imperfect, fallible and generally normal person(s), but how?
Here are a few ideas to make the leadership job doable.
Step 1 Create a strong UKIP team out of all party members
The more able and highly motivated everyone is, the better in getting UKIP’s important message across to the electorate, and in being an obvious government in waiting. Here the leader’s role is to provide the support and encouragement necessary to empower all members to get results. And most importantly, provide the ‘role model’ in words and deeds that can be absorbed almost effortlessly by a wide cross-section of members and then passed onto the wider public; despite the public’s initial scepticism, inertia and the unending hostility of the mainstream media.
Step 2 Work out what ‘role model’ attributes or skills the leader needs
Top of the list could be the natural aptitudes to: ‘speak as we speak in the street’ forcefully being the voice of the wishes, hopes, and fears of the forgotten (quietly conservative) traditionally Labour and Conservative voting British people. To go further and inspire their trust and hope (for a better tomorrow); that tomorrow can be better than today and that we all have a responsibility to make it so. This includes plain honest speaking about serious problems, also about the failures and abuses of the legacy parties and providing realistic solutions. At the same time to be difficult for the mainstream parties and media to attack, smear and denigrate. Also, to have a deeply held feeling and active commitment towards the best of our country, its heritage, the British people, to UKIP (us the members) and to getting things done efficiently as a strong team.To be able to build alliances with like-minded other people or organisations and turn ‘enemies’ into friends and active supporters.
Step 3 Select a leader who best matches those ‘role model’ attributes
A few helpful indicators of the attributes needed, observable in written work, speeches and one-on-one conversations or interviews, are: respectable and trustworthy appearance; a natural affinity to people and to making us feel good about ourselves; ability to listen, learn quickly and adapt; finds and rapidly adopts best practice; courageous in speaking the truth; observes, analyses and develops practical (and sometimes innovative) ideas; able to develop strategies, priorities, and plans (before rushing in); a good although not overpowering communicator appealing successfully to both heart and head; careful, precise, accurate and economical with the use of words; infectiously energetic and enthusiastic especially about his or her positive vision of tomorrow for our country and UKIP.
Step 4 Work with the leader and his or her top team(s)
Collaboration is working in a partnership of equals with each contributing something useful; the end result being better than the efforts of each separately. Continually reduce (not increase) stress levels, by finding ways of making the work easier, quicker and more effective. Cover for weaknesses and mistakes, and then sort out rather than whinge or run to the media.
The Caveats (to err is all too human)
Generally, we tend to bring with us our past experiences or backgrounds and idiosyncrasies. When the tasks are difficult, or we don’t really know what to do, we fall back on these and the familiar, regardless of whether or not this is appropriate. Hopefully talking about past experiences and future ideas should provide pointers to the mindset, skill set and past or formative experiences of the ‘best of the bunch’ of candidates for leader of UKIP; importantly how each will react when the going gets tough and he or she does not really know or have ideas about what to do.
Our paradigms (or conceptual frameworks) of knowledge, assumptions, and aspirations or expectations constrain our thinking, as does using shortcuts (heuristics) to reach ‘conclusions’. So in a nutshell ‘the thought never occurred’ and, likely as not, contradictory evidence that should have been considered was ignored. Sometimes wide experience (including overseas) and a free exchange of ideas in a group with varied backgrounds can help facilitate thinking outside the box.
The existing infrastructure of UKIP, including rules, and custom and practice, must inevitably limit actions. Hopefully, they can be changed efficiently as the need for change becomes clear.
DisceDoce (Learn and Teach, the motto of the Institution of Electrical Engineers)
Kaoru Ishikawa in his book What is Total Quality Control? The Japanese Way said that the Japanese Quality Movement has a saying “Quality begins and ends with education”. Part of that education was: to overcome interdepartmental conflicts by replacing “enemies” with “internal customers”; to study the subject, issue or problem; work together in improvement teams (quality circles); and follow the Plan, Do, Check, Action (to improve) cycle. Could UKIP become to politics and government what Toyota is to auto-manufacturing? Yes, it could! But only if we want it to be and are prepared to work sensibly and continuously at it!
Leadership qualities are hard to define, and perhaps more about attributes that fit the situation (or emergency) than about being universal. But you know it when you see it.