When should a leader go?

Should I stay or should I go? It's the leadership question of the moment. The leader of the opposition is for staying despite an over whelming vote of no confidence, the Prime Minister was for going," let those who got us into this mess get us out of it”,  the England football manager resigns on the spot after a humiliating defeat. 

When faced with a damming inspection report and the prospects of the authority being placed in Special Measures  does the chief executive accept responsibility and offer their resignation or vow to use all their experience and energy to put things right? After all isn't that what leadership is all about stepping up and taking responsibility in a crisis? Is leadership about being accountable even if it was the actions of others that brought about this crisis or is leadership about inspiring the come back? 

Maybe there is no choice if the members have lost confidence in the chief executive then lacking their support they are forced to go. 

Does it make any difference if the chief executive has the backing of their senior management team or if the consensus is that the leader of the council and the cabinet brought about this crisis by ignoring the advice of their officers? 

What is the relationship between democracy and leadership? Those elected to power hold those they appoint to account and therefore can sack senior managers if they feel that they have not delivered or no longer have confidence in their ability to deliver. And yet the leader of the council and the cabinet allocated the resources, set the agenda and the priorities. If a report is critical of the leadership of the authority, how it allocated resources, set priorities or related to officers should cabinet members resign or can they resist such pressure claiming they have a mandate from the electorate having been recently re elected! 

What about when the leader and cabinet impose some very unpopular and controversial decisions around the location of an industrial recycling and incinerator plant or permission for a fracking site. The cabinet claim they are showing leadership in looking at the bigger picture the local press and radio phone ins show overwhelming public opposition even members of their own party speak out against the decisions. Should the leader go or stay and risk their party losing power in the not to distant election.

It is understandable if leaders seek to hang on to power. It is true you cannot be an effective chief executive without the support of members. It's often the case that accountability and responsibility get mixed up when the media is looking for someone to blame. It is in the nature of democracy that politicians are sensitive to public opinion but leadership often requires making unpopular decisions after all that incinerator has to go in someone's back yard.

Blair McPherson former director http://www.blairmcpherson.co.uk/

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