According to a recent study by LIFT Ireland, 91% of the Irish population believe that politicians should have some form of training before taking public office, ranking them as demonstrating the least leadership in Irish society.
The 2022 LIFT Leadership Index polled 1000 members of the public on topics concerning leadership, and their findings indicated that a strong section of Irish society believes that more needs to be done to ensure leaders are prepared for the responsibilities society thrusts upon them. To be specific, only a slight majority (64%) believed that “Irish people, generally, have good leadership skills.” And when rating Ireland on a national scale, it landed well below the top countries, achieving a net score of only 2%. This was compared with New Zealand’s 43%, which was, according to the Irish participants, the country that demonstrated the highest level of leadership.
According to LIFT Ireland’s CEO, Joanne Hession, they “have worked with over 20,000 people to develop their leadership skills. In 2022, our aim is to increase this number to more than 30,000.”
Yet many, including myself, are left wondering what this process entails and how exactly they plan to improve Ireland’s leadership skills.
As per their website, LIFT’s learning process is based on eight key leadership values (listening, positive attitude, competence, honesty and integrity, dedication and determination, respect, empathy and understanding, and accountability) imparted throughout the course of 8 weeks. These courses last approximately 30 mins if the groups are kept to the recommended 6-person maximum.
That means that LIFT expects to be able to positively address Ireland’s leadership problem in four hours.
This journalist doubts that. Don’t get me wrong, I support any organization that campaigns for the betterment of society but developing leadership skills is a task that takes years of discipline and experience, and I do not think that “a certified facilitator [guiding] a roundtable of 4-6 individuals through a specific leadership value” is enough.
This is (as per the section this article finds itself in) my opinion. But how exactly do you train good leadership? And isn’t the idea of a good leader dependent on perspective?
There is an argument to be made that careers and studies such as business, administration and law already teach leadership skills to their pupils; many of which eventually gravitate towards politics.
To find out more, I spoke with a local resident here in Galway about this topic. Asking to remain anonymous, he said that “a lot of them [politicians] would already have training in some regard, they’re generally professionals.” When asked if he thought leadership training should be a requirement for politicians in Ireland, he said “probably should. But will it happen? Probably not.”