Leadership and Trust

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald, I’ve penned the first of the Herald’s “Blueprint” articles (a series which will be running for the next few weeks), looking at leadership. I consider how Howard and Latham stack up on three measures of leadership – persuading others to follow you (classic business executive-type leadership), adaptive leadership (creating the conditions for people to tackle their own problems), and policy entrepreneurship.

On the same page, I also analyse how trust in politicians has fluctuated. From 1976 to 1998, the fraction of Australians rating their politicians high or very high for ethics and honesty steadily declined. Then it headed upwards until 2003. When I penned this article last week, it looked as though this upward trend was something to celebrate. But yesterday, Roy Morgan’s 2004 figures came out (embargoed until today) showing that trust had again plummeted back to its 1998 levels, which meant a rather rapid rewrite of the piece. Whereas the 2003 figures suggested that Howard had presided over a rise in trust, the 2004 figure tells a more sombre story. You need to buy the paper to see the accompanying graph, but to look at the data, click here.

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