I would have thought the MPs interested in standing for the National Party leader's job would have put their heads together. Decided amongst themselves on two candidates to go forward for their fellow MPs to vote for.
Five candidates makes for a crowded field and looks as if there is no shortage of leadership potential. Each sees themselves as chief. It is the MPs who vote for their leader in the National Party caucus so I guess they all want a say on who will lead them. But it does look as if no election strategy was employed when presented with five contenders.
Judith Collins, Amy Adams, Simon Bridges, Steven Joyce and Mark Mitchell all bring a variety of skills to the job and believe they have what it takes to lead a political party.
I'm putting my money on Judith Collins to be leader of the opposition. She will be going hard out to win and taking note of those who support her goal. After the election for the boss there will be winners and losers, those to be rewarded and those to be parked on the sideline.
I do find it interesting though that "having some mongrel" seems to be part of the necessary skill set for a National Party leader. I'm not sure why in opposition, a mongrel disposition is seen as a must. The name "opposition" suggests combat and the public now believes that political leaders need to be clever, cunning and crafty. But to accept that "having some mongrel" is what the public expects is belittling to politicians themselves.
Our new prime minister doesn't display or look at all inclined towards mongrel-like behaviour. And I wouldn't expect this to change over time. What I see and hear when she is talking sounds genuine to me. No need for "below the line" behaviour, put downs, intimidation and ridicule. It says something when a party believes that a leader "with some mongrel" is what's required. Without it you're not likely to be successful in the job.
I like what US President Harry S. Truman said, "You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit."
This would be hard for today's political leaders to accept. It seems to be always about them. And maybe it's not their fault. The public have become accustomed to seeing leaders that resemble hero status or executive celebrity status. I prefer to see leaders with a fierce resolve wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of all New Zealanders. This is what will endear them to me. I have had enough of the same old rhetoric. Year in year out. Nothing much changes. Yet people live in hope.
At an International Leadership Summit many years ago I had the opportunity to ask Jim Collins, author of the bestselling book Good to Great, if the successful Level 5 Leadership examples he gave in his book could be portable to political leaders. He said he doubted that could happen. Why? Because the leadership examples he gave were of leaders who channel their egos away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.
He said it's not that the leaders have no ego or self-interest. They have, they are incredibly ambitious – but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, and not themselves.
I don't think a political party leader needs to be a larger than life saviour with a big personality to influence and lift the economic and social wellbeing of New Zealanders. Just ensure ambition is first and foremost channelled into the larger goal of building a great country. Oh and leave the mongrel at home.
Merepeka Raukawa-Tait is a Rotorua district councillor, Lakes District Health Board member and chairs the North Island Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency. She writes, speaks and broadcasts to thwart political correctness.