Magazine article Public Sector

Auckland - Does Leadership Really Matter?

Magazine article Public Sector

Auckland - Does Leadership Really Matter?

Article excerpt

Ten years ago I and a group of like-minded leadership addicts founded Leadership New Zealand and since that time we have graduated around 400 middle-management New Zealanders who have wanted to move up the ladder of success. Each year I make an effort to do a workshop with the new entrants and this year was no exception. Their questions focussed on what is needed to make Auckland a success. Of course, they were groping for that elusive ingredient, asking if new, inspiring and visionary leadership could be the answer to all our woes - and wondering where it would come from.

The question that really needs to be answered is, how has leadership failed to be delivered in local government? And, how hard is it to achieve a success rating?

I often think that good political leadership thrives in a time of crisis and chaos. At this time, a political leader is elected to solve the most complex and difficult problems. Auckland right now believes it is in the middle of the worst kind of housing and transport nightmare. This issue is partly true, but it is also media created. It is not because there is a vacuum of leadership. Homelessness is also a repeated problem in the Auckland region. People have been sleeping in cars and in garages for the last 20 years but the problem has been exacerbated lately by New Zealanders not leaving for Australia and by the general growth of population.

Can a new leader elected in October solve these problems? Well, the right person, whether it be a man or woman, might well be that miracle worker.

Leadership in politics, as Trump is showing clearly in the US, is a form of captivity in which the individual needs to seize the moment and work the emerging trends as they appear. Despair, marginalisation and anger are the ammunition used; the candidate of 'wacky rhetoric' will suddenly seem to be making sense. Certainly Trump has seized that moment, and I believe a mayoral candidate in Auckland could easily push the extremes of logic and enter the realm of shameless political rhetoric and get away with it.


Local government in Auckland in election year tends to dredge up those who need a day job and those who haven't a clue about the real issues of visionary leadership. We have seen that demonstrated around the Auckland Council, unfortunately, over the last six years. Mind changing and populist nonsense have damaged Council's credibility with the stakeholders. …

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