Follow the leader

A leader is some one who tells you what to do. I had a boss who was fond of saying,  "this is not a democracy" , in other words I am not asking you what you think we should do I'm telling you. This is the difference between the elected political leader of the council and the appointed leader of staff the chief executive. The relationship between the leader of the council and the electorate is very different to that of the chief executive to their staff. Yet confusingly they are both spoken of as leaders and the leader of the council can tell the chief executive what to do.  

Once elected political leaders can and do make unpopular decisions, granting fracking licences, closing libraries and granting planning permission for industrial incinerators.  Yet generally they are restrain in their actions by the need to get reelected. Chief executives wishing to drive through an unpopular restructuring, outsourcing services or changing terms and conditions of employment are traditionally restrained by the advice of HR and the strength of the Union. However in resent times the restraints for both the leader of the council and the leader of the staff have been greatly reduced. 

Local councillors once shy of upsetting  voters have been made bold by austerity now they  are believed when they say, " we have no choice we simply can't afford the level of service we once offered ". The chief executive can talk of standing on a burning platform and say there is no point in discussing this with staff as ,"turkeys don't vote for Christmas".
A leader is only a leader whilst people are prepared to follow. Both politicians and managers know that the threat to their power comes not from the voters or the frontline staff but much closer to home. After all only friends and allies can get close enough to stab you in the back.
Blair McPherson former director, writer and blogger 

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