Keep­ing it sim­ple and keep­ing it hon­est

Six-term for­mer Waitakere mayor Sir Bob Har­vey talks lead­er­ship, the good and ugly.

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER -

What a tur­moil the po­lit­i­cal world is in right now. Holy hell we would never have guessed it but two of the great­est na­tions in the world are com­ing to grief be­fore our eyes and that’s not even in­clud­ing Aus­tralia.

How could peo­ple get it so wrong to get such bad po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship. For the mil­lions of words writ­ten in the last month over Don­ald Trump, Hil­lary Clin­ton and the Bri­tish Brexit fi­asco, I won­der is there a trick­le­down ef­fect in the forth­com­ing may­oral elec­tions. My thoughts are in­evitably that there will be, sim­ply be­cause all pol­i­tics are lo­cal, and the forth­com­ing elec­tion will be no ex­cep­tion.

I started my po­lit­i­cal ca­reer work­ing closely with the great Sir Dove-Myer Robin­son who was small in stature but a gi­ant in vi­sion and lead­er­ship. I learnt all my po­lit­i­cal smarts from him and went on to in­vent the mod­ern po­lit­i­cal elec­tion cam­paign.

I picked up hints along the way from Nor­man Kirk and David Lange and then when my time came to stand for the may­oralty of Waitakere I tried to bring their wis­dom to my cam­paign. That I was suc­cess­ful, and held that job through six elec­tions, was re­ally un­der­stand­ing that lead­er­ship has many hats but the one to wear ev­ery day is truth and trans­par­ent hon­esty.

The pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in the United States needs clear un­der­stand­ing of what you stand for and for all his shock tac­tics Trump has this in spades, he speaks in a di­rect lan­guage and as trou­bling as it may be to us, he res­onates while Clin­ton gives us a granny speech which is stom­ach­turn­ing.

I learnt quickly that you could never go into an elec­tion with­out a strong is­sue whether it be change, job cre­ation, or the big ones like the en­vi­ron­ment which I picked and it car­ried me to vic­tory.

They say in pol­i­tics: ‘‘It’s wrong to be right, too soon’’. The other thing I’ve learnt is that New Zealan­ders will do any­thing that you ask them but noth­ing if you tell them, al­though Prime Min­is­ter John Key did ask us to vote for a flag we didn’t like. If he’d asked us to vote for Red Peak we would have.

I al­ways ad­mit mis­takes and apol­o­gise im­me­di­ately with deep sin­cer­ity, it’s the hard­est one for any politi­cian to fake. I re­garded the stakes as enor­mously se­ri­ous; peo­ple can tell and will for­give you if you do it well. I also be­lieved that good lead­er­ship is not easy; it’s cruel but the vot­ers hate mind chang­ing and shal­low prom­ises.

Peo­ple are deeply sus­pi­cious of politi­cians and so the job has to be done as openly and as hon­estly as hu­manly pos­si­ble; sur­prise them with hu­mil­ity and hum­ble­ness.

Eat saw­dust if nec­es­sary but get the job done: to­day’s en­e­mies in pol­i­tics are to­mor­row’s friends: never hold a grudge and re­mem­ber those who are stand­ing in this year’s elec­tion, it’s bloody hard work but it’s bet­ter than the dole.

Sir Bob Har­vey: ‘‘Lead­er­ship has many hats but the one to wear ev­ery day is truth and trans­par­ent hon­esty."

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