An interesting report from the Institute of Leadership and Management on perceptions of the major political leaders in the UK, business leaders (Richard Branson, Karren Brady and Rupert Murdoch) as well as three other major national leaders (Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy). The report highlights the problems all parties face in winning over public opinion during the forthcoming General Election.
The main finding relates to their Leadership Quotient (shown above), on which Gordon Brown is bottom (Branson top) but none of his two rivals come out of this well it has to be said. Cameron is highest on 5.66 (out of 10); in a context of Branson scoring over 8/10. Clegg is in a close second with Brown lagging behind. But when looking at the qualities behind these, Cameron scores badly for integrity; Clegg for leadership abilities; Cameron does very well for communication and engagement and, while Brown scores worst for having vision, no party leader is perceived to be clearly possessing vision.
The representativeness of the sample is dubious, or at least in terms of representing the UK electorate, as 21.1% would vote for other parties which suggests they are unusual compared to the mass electorate or are not UK voters. When looking at voting behaviour however, Cameron is not winning over all the disaffected Labour voters, the split is even between him and Clegg. The overall reports concludes that Brown should work on communication and engagement; Cameron on demonstrating ability and integrity; Clegg meanwhile needs to also demonstrate ability to lead. "Gordon Brown in particular has a real challenge. While he has a core of strong supporters who rate him highly, the problem is the low opinion of the majority. Many of these people have moved away from Labour and have deep reservations about his vision, his communication skills and his ability to engage them, and build commitment."
While none of this is in any way earth shattering, it is interesting that these judgements match much media commentary regarding the leaders and generally reflect doubts already voiced widely. What it really seems to show is how close the contest is and perhaps what little overall differences there are between the leaders as overall packages. None has the support awarded to Branson, or indeed Barack Obama who has second place but is deemed as being better at communication and having the highest integrity. Perhaps the challenge for both leaders is to erase those last minute doubts that many voters may experience - do they trust either Brown or Cameron fully, and who do they trust most?