Managing Director of Forman & Field, Lance Forman on what makes a good leader


- Credit: Carmen Valino - on shift

The number of business leaders I have met who tell me that they don’t believe an ounce of the climate change argument, but have to keep their mouths shut for fear of upsetting their stakeholders, is enough to raise temperatures alone.

The problem here is not climate change, it’s leadership, or more to the point, lack of leadership and nowhere is this problem most acute than in our political classes.

You might love them or loathe them but at least you never tire of politicians who speak their mind. They too raise temperatures, but at least you know where you stand with them. Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, or recently departed Margaret Thatcher have or had leadership qualities which makes them either attractive or unattractive depending on your view of life, but at least they’re not dull. They say what they think, try to persuade you of their view and if the argument is convincing you go with them. They cut across traditional political classes too because of their clarity and honesty.

Far too many of our politicians seek to find out what we the public want through focus groups, or media reports and then simply spout what they think we want to hear in order to win their votes, which is why the majority of people now are switched off to politics and think there’s very little to choose between the three main parties.

And there seems to be an unspoken alliance of arrogance amongst the political classes that they know best. An alliance incidentally that does not stop at the borders of the UK, but stretches very much into the heart of Europe.

Rarely do we hear an apology when they get it wrong, which is much of the time. In the years leading up to the election Cameron and Osborne’s economic plan was to ‘share the proceeds of growth between increased public spending and reduced taxes’, seemingly trying to keep everyone happy. Instead, no one is happy because we haven’t had the growth, as their assumption of growth come-what-may was simply wrong.

Some people blame the leadership problem on politicians’ lack of commercial experience; others say we do not pay politicians enough and therefore don’t attract a high enough calibre of candidate. I say, put them on commission. If they get the economy to grow, they earn more, if they fail, they earn less. That way we would honestly all be in this together and we may get a political climate change we duly need.