With just days to go before Chancellor Gordon Brown taking over as British prime minister, we must ask the question, can he grasp the leadership nettle? Chris Gaynor discusses the importance of vision and teamwork when you are the person in charge.
Tony Blair has done it. Sir Alex Ferguson does it well at Manchester United. Jose Mourihno is doing it at Chelsea. And now British prime minister in waiting Gordon Brown will have to do it for Labour.
What am I talking about? Leadership. What makes an effective leader? Is it something that comes naturally, or is it like life, a learning curve?
Sir Alan Sugar will be looking for someone with leadership skills when he appoints his Apprentice next week. And Gordon Brown will have to grasp the nettle when he takes over from Blair. No more following for him!
Gerard M Blair is a senior lecturer in Design at the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, and says in his book, Starting to Manage: the essential skills, that: 'one of the most cited characteristics in modern management is 'vision' and goes on to say that: 'communicating a vision is simply not a case of painting it in large red letters across your office wall, but rather bringing the whole team to perceive your vision and to begin to share it with you.'
Youthful David Cameron had a vision of re-inventing the Conservative Party as 'compassionate', but in managerial terms is this enough for him to become PM? And will the Conservative Party share in this vision? The grammar schools issue has been his toughest test so far as leader. Afterall, Cameron's party is based on support for the meritocracy and he has set his face against new grammars - something that sticks in the craw of some his party stalwarts.
Human beings all communicate in different ways, that is what sets us apart from other species, especially when it comes to managing a team, an organisation or even a political party.
A fierce leader, Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of not just a team, but a well known international brand, has a management style that is tough. He dresses down his players in private, with a heated style known as known as the 'Hairdry Treatment'. Not everyone would be suited to this style of leadership, but certainly the results and success speak for itself.
Gordon Brown faces tough tests when he becomes PM. Climate change, nuclear energy, the replacement of the Trident weapons system and the Iraq war are all going to be thrust in his face.
Businessman Gerry Robinson, spoke on This Week with Andrew Neil, and said: 'Gordon Brown has been a fantastic Chancellor, but he is untested, and been in a staff role the past 10 years. He is going to have to take unpopular decisions, but as the parties move closer together, it's not about whether we vote Tory or Labour, it comes down to whether we support Gordon Brown or David Cameron.'
From talking tactics in the dressing room to setting out objectives in leading a political party, management is not just about managing, but leading. Of course, management is important, but it is also the team aspect that is influential in achievement. Gaining consensus around a table is difficult both at political and industrial level. The effective leader must have the ability to share ideas and bounce them off all employees, or shape his own ideas by coherent arguments. Simply believing one is right and everybody else is wrong is not the art of being a team player.
This is Tony Blair's legacy. His dilemma with the draconian anti-terrorism laws, where his House of Commons majority was slashed to just 31 votes, indicates that sharing ideas and listening to others is one key to consensus. However firm in one's beliefs, and I quote from Mr Blair himself: 'It is better losing doing the right thing than winning doing the wrong thing,' is an example of autocracy . Whilst having vision is important in being an effective leader, there is a borderline between firm belief and self delusion.
With the endless array of courses available in management, clearly, the contrasts in the management styles of different people suggest that management is a law unto itself. Managers should have the ability to bring out the best in people.
We all remember a great teacher at school. The advertising slogan, 'those who can, teach,' maybe is as relevant in the managerial world, as in the four-walled classroom.
Managers in the public domain are perceived as the ideal . They hold teams together, and the success, whether it be concluding a multi-million pound business deal or watching Chelsea secure the Premiership for the first time in a long period, speaks for itself.
Gordon and David face tough challenges and they will be judged by the electorate on their leadersip qualities.
Already Mr Cameron has won some 'hearts and minds' in the Tory party, but he has still a way to go to convince grassroots to join him in further reforming the party. But he said he won't flinch in his attempt to modernise the Conservatives and make them General Election winners again.
Gordon, by the same token, needs to shift away from Blairism and yet still manage to keep on-board loyal ordinary party members. The key test will be do they have the bottle to take the tough decisions?
Without a team, the manager is manage less. Without a manager the team are leaderless.