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The Alchemy of Leadership Blog

If Prime Ministers were CEOs

politicians as ceos

Last week Rachel Savage in Management Today matched party leaders to CEOs.  In her article ‘General Election 2015: If party leaders were CEOs’ she noted that David Cameron bears a suspicious resemblance to a fellow Dave -  Tesco’s new boss Dave Lewis as both inherited a creaking organisation with skeletons in the closet and share an enthusiasm for cuts.

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband’s mission to reshape capitalism, is just like Unilever’s Paul Polman who, she says, has to convince ever-sceptical shareholders that making the consumer goods giant sustainable is good for long-term growth.

These comparisons got me thinking about the challenges faced by the new CEO of UK Plc.  The Dutch premier Mark Rutte told the country's Telegraaf newspaper that an occasional feeling of loneliness is inherent in the job of prime minister; 'In the end, it is me who has to drive things forward once you've got all the recommendations in and you are sitting at your desk, then you have to take a decision.'  There are, he said, only a few people to share these feelings with and once a year Rutte invites his predecessors in the job to his offices. 'They too understand the job can be very lonely on occasion,' he told the Telegraaf.

Margaret Thatcher too spoke of loneliness at the top; ‘Being prime minister is a lonely job ... you cannot lead from the crowd.’  At School for CEOs our Research has highlighted this feeling of loneliness and recently Patrick Macdonald School for CEOs co-founder commented on CEO loneliness in the Financial Times.

As David Cameron settles back at his desk this morning perhaps there will be another parallel with Tesco boss Dave Lewis.  He undertook a sweeping reshuffle of his top team, wasting no time stamping his mark on the supermarket group.  The coming days will see a new cabinet formed.  How radical will the PM be as he shapes his top team?

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