Poor Leadership Effective Leadership Is Hardly a Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Poor Leadership

Effective leadership is hardly a matter of chance or luck. It constitutes some sound competencies and traits which every leader must either possess naturally or acquire during his career. Leaders are expected to have major essential competencies in five areas namely, Analytical, Positional, Personal, Communication and Organizational. Not every leader may possess all these but they are widely desired based on literature review and hence a leader lacking any of these might face serious problems. When we look at the real world, we notice that some of the best leaders of the world possessed these competencies. Napoleon is believed to have said that a good leader is the one who can inspire others to share his vision. This would fall under the communication competency and it appears that truly great leaders did not need to read books to learn leadership; they naturally possessed the traits needed to become an effective leader. In the same way, Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) has always been cited as one of the most effective leaders of all time. His effectiveness was grounded in his ability to inspire people, create shared beliefs and values and be completely honest in his dealings. Honesty in dealings is an important trait which Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric also possessed. He believed that as long as you were honest with people, there could never be a communication breakdown in the organization.


When Kevin Rudd took office in 2007, there were many questions in people's mind about his leadership abilities. These concerns were compounded by some genuine lack of political experience on part of Rudd who had been in the Parliament for only nine years compared to Howard who had been there for 33 years

. This was indeed a huge difference in experience. John Howard looked like the obvious choice for a fifth term in office. Labor Party was setting itself up for disappointment, or at least that's how it appeared. Liberal Party was playing its cards correctly but most importantly, it just assumed Kevin Rudd did not have the skills or qualities to attract voters. They couldn't be more wrong.

Elections proved that Kevin Rudd did not only have the skills, he also had the leadership persona that people were apparently looking for. The thing that went in his favor was Rudd's ability to present himself as someone just like Howard, only better. "Kevin Rudd constructed himself to be John Howard without the nasty bits. Some commentators accused Rudd of "me-tooism." More apt was the appraisal by the video satirist Hugh Arkin that Rudd was operating under the 'clever principle of similar difference'." (Hartcher, p.266)

Rudd's leadership capabilities were under question before the campaign began but during the election campaign quite clear that he could be a formidable rival. John Howard noticed this and he even warned "his parliamentary caucus that it was facing not merely defeat but annihilation at the ballot box. Rudd's emphasis on the struggles of "working families" resonated with an electorate concerned with the unfairness of the Howard government's radical WorkChoices industrial relations reforms, and with rising interest rates."

Kevin Rudd also cleverly presented him as a younger choice. This was actually important for those thousands of voters who had just entered the voting pool. They had seen John Howard for years and now that they finally got a chance to vote, they saw it as their opportunity to bring change at the top office. In many ways, he worked like Barack Obama, who was also the younger choice compared to John McCain and had won due to massive youth vote. Just like Obama, Rudd also employed the sensible tactic of staying positive when it came to opponents. Instead of playing the typical political game, Rudd showed willingness to work with his opponents on common national goals.

"Rudd was able to present himself as a younger candidate, in contrast to Howard, and he also deployed a self-deprecatory sense of humor, often manifested in acknowledgement of his 'nerdish' character. In addition, Rudd worked hard to present himself as a 'reasonable' person, regularly expressing a desire not to 'play politics' on issues where there was consensus with his political opponents." (Craig, 2008)

Rudd was known in the political circles but he was neither a prominent member of the Labor Party nor a potential candidate for leadership of his party. But apparently that did not really matter because Rudd played his cards cleverly enough to rise to prominence within the short span of his election campaign. He was indeed the "me-too" product during the election but that worked for him because he could sense that people did not want someone too different from Howard, all they were looking for was a fresh face with basically the same old ideals, tweaked to perfection. Just like President Obama, Rudd's experience or lack of it thereof had often been discussed but he could more than make up for it by presenting some other surprising skills. For example in September of 2007, the world was pleasantly surprised to see that Rudd could communicate fluently in Mandarin, a language that millions speak around the world but was not expected from an Australian Prime Minister. "Rudd's lack of experience, however, has been compensated for by strategic nous and a flair for the media grab. At the Sydney Apec Summit in September, Rudd stole the limelight by addressing Chinese president Hu Jintao in fluent Mandarin during a speech (Rudd once had a diplomatic posting to Beijing and studied Chinese at university)."

This was indeed a refreshing discovery which was widely applauded in Australia and tilted people in favor of the Labor Party. Apart from that, there had been some other clever campaign tricks. For example Rudd may not have come up with new fresh ideas but he defeated Howard at his own game by matching his proposals with even more ambitious one. "When Howard claimed the initiative in the first week of the election campaign by announcing a mammoth $34bn tax cut, Rudd responded by matching

90 per cent of the cuts and using the remainder to offer an education tax rebate for low-income families. Perhaps Rudd's most critical political maneuver, though, was to respond to a late $9bn spending pledge by Howard by casting himself as an economic conservative who could be trusted to avoid reckless spending. One can expect more of this kind of discipline from a Rudd premiership."

One may argue that campaign is one thing and actual responsibility as the leader is another but the reason it was important to mention his campaign method was simple: those were the very first displays of effective leadership qualities. Once he took oath and came to office, Rudd proved to be a capable leader who could hold his own in public. The very first significant thing is did was to bridge the gap between aboriginal Australians and non-aboriginal ones by offering a sincere apology to the former who had been a victim of 100 years of oppression. In what is known as An Apology to Stolen Generations, Prime Minster Rudd apologized to aboriginal Australians for the way their children had been taken away so they could be raised better. "…on 13 February 2008, in his first parliamentary statement as Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd apologized to the Stolen Generations..." This was important because "a number of surveys of those who had been removed as children from their families revealed that what they wanted most was an official national apology by the federal government and the opportunity to tell their stories and be listened to." (Oliveira, Cardinal p. 201)

The apology was seen as an important step because it could offer a sense of closure to those stolen generations who felt like victims in their own country. This abuse had hitherto gone unnoticed or was at least deliberately ignored. Though Kevin Rudd did not offer any compensation with his apology, his words were heartfelt and resonated with the public.

"His apology immediately became Topic A in Australia. A song about reconciliation with the Aboriginal minority has become the forth biggest selling recording in Australia even though it is available only as a download from the Web. The song, 'From little things, Big things Grow' begins with a recording of the most powerful words of Rudd's apology. "As prime minister I am sorry; on behalf of the government, I am sorry." (Kador, p. 82)

Once in office, Rudd made changes in Australia's domestic and international policies

. Rudd's next achievement was his ability to maintain good terms with America despite initial concerns. John Howard had been seen as a central figure in America's Asia-Pacific alliance. He had brought Australia to the status of one of the five most favored allies and this was indeed a remarkable achievement for a country with fewer than 20 million people. Howard had also used this as his trump card in previous campaigns when he called Mark Latham, his opponent during 2004 elections, anti-American.…

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