Leadership, or lack of it, is in the news right now and rhetoric lacking that leadership is less persauasive.
In America a war-weary public is no longer responding, as many of them did, to his often soaring rhetoric. The reason being they do not see him as a decisive President, one who leads. As Max Hastings writes “His rhetoric remains as impressive as ever, but his conduct of office is hallmarked by weakness and indecision.” Conversely, while David Cameron demonstrated a specific lack of leadership over his Party when the ‘war’ vote went against him, he is still seen according to the polls as a strong leader. His defiant “I get it ” front foot approach hits the right note.
Meanwhile Ed Milliband, who is not without eloquence and subtlety as a politician, has not had the greatest success in taking his ideas to the TUC conference. His argument for a changed relationship, and promises that a Labour Government would stamp out ‘Victorian’ employment practices, failed to sway the Union bruisers.
He did not come across as a strong confrontational leader worthy of their attention. In the latest IPSOS MORI poll 58% rate Cameron as a capable leader and only 28% rate Milliband (same for Farage, ahead of Clegg.) He is seen as less good in a crisis, with less sound judgement, all aspects of leadership.
All this is, of course. a question of perception as it is in the business pitch where leadership is operating on two levels. The first of these is the corporate. No matter how open-minded they aim to be anyone on the recieving end of a pitch will already have an opinion of the company they are seeing.
This will be partly based on facts of market share and business performance but as much on the intangibles of innovative thinking, decisiveness, positive attitude- characterisics of leadership. If you are pitching a company without some level of perceived leadership you are going to have a problem. However, by the time you are invited to do battle you must assume your rivals are as good as you, with similar corporate reputations, or they would not have been short-listed. In other words, in battle parlance, their troops are your equal in numbers and weaponry and disposition.
The winning difference is leadership. In preparation, in the signals of a meeting well managed, with clarity and certainty, but above all in the intangibles of attitude.
Spirit, desire, courage, camaraderie. These are what win battles, hearts and minds.
Shakespeare said it best:
“..But when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood..” Henry V,