The Conservative Party

Using the Conservative Party as a working example, apply relevant management theory to the actions of the organisation in recent years, critically evaluating the appropriateness of behaviour, concentrating on leadership as a subject area. Within this essay my aim is to clearly evaluate the actions and behaviours within the recent events that have been happening within the Conservative party and apply critical theory directly to them. The reason I have chosen the Conservative party is because of the recent change of leadership and the massive changes that this will provoke within the party.

On the 7th of November 2003, Iain Duncan-Smith, known as the 'Quiet Man', resigned as the leader of the Conservative party after losing a motion of confidence (90 votes to 75) within the party after just over two years in charge. "The parliamentary party has spoken - and I will stand down when a successor has been chosen. " Iain Duncan Smith. The Independent: 2003:1 The party then elected right-winger Michael Howard to become the third leader of the opposition within six years. This fact alone would suggest that the past leadership of the party has been not only unsuccessful but also unacceptable to its own members.

In a statement just after the announcement of Iain Duncan-Smith's decision to stand down, the Deputy Shadow Prime Minister, David Davies said, "I am concerned that a protracted battle over the leadership will create still more divisions and that the aftermath of a contest will create serious difficulties for us in the run-up to the next general election. " The Times: 2003:1 This statement questions the overall unity of the party, which is critical because one would have to assume that all of the party's members must have to be working towards the same thing, which would be to get back into power.

This could be said to be contradicting a definition of leadership that is put to us by P. G Northouse, who defines as follows, "Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal" Northouse, P. 2001:3 If this definition is to be took on board then Mr Davis' words are completely throwing the party's stance as a challenge to the labour party into disarray. The statement could possibly relate to there being members of the party with personal hidden agendas, which would rule out any chance of common goals even existing below the surface that we, as possible constituents, see.

So before Michael Howard had even started his job as party leader would have to make the decision as to which way he wanted to take the party forward, how he was going to resurrect this waning party and bring back the power and resilient dominance that it had experienced during the radical ways of the Thatcher era. The type of leadership stance he adopts in his new position will decide the success or failure of this new look Conservative party. This can be looked at through the views of Belbin, (Mullins, L. 2002: 266) who suggests that there are two very different contrasting types of leader, the 'solo' and the 'team' leader.

It goes on to define each type of leader, with the solo leader being the individual who takes no risks on other people and takes a very direct approach preferring specific tasks and goals. There is expectancy for total obedience and the leadership is thought to be unquestionable. In times of great pressure, this type of leader acts quickly, implementing their decisions assertively. However, this is a quality that has to be exceptional in the Solo leader because if such decisions backfire it is likely that there position will be reviewed with high scrutiny - such as Iain Duncan-Smith, who was discarded without sentiment.

With this type of leadership, especially in such a pressured position as leader of the opposition, Mr Howard could encounter serious problems. For example the phrase 'two heads are better than one' springs to mind, the leader may make a decision which costs them their job, whereas if they had discussed the choices and ideas they had with members of the cabinet, a better decision may have derived from such shared thoughts.

The second type of leader - The Team leader, is very different to his opposite number. This type of leader utilises the skills and competencies of their colleagues. They tend to create team goals and empathises how everyone within the team can benefit from completing the tasks as a unit. There is more delegation within this sort of scenario and the leader tends to, whilst not avoiding his responsibilities, confine their position. This type of leadership would be better suited to the job in hand for Mr.

Howard, his job has many areas, hence having a shadow cabinet, and trying to have the final say and influence every decision would not be wise on his behalf. He has so many intelligent members of his party who have put there trust in him as there leader, so it would be common sense to incorporate them into moving the party into a challenging position in the next general election. The only possible flaw in this style, should he choose to adopt it, would be if he was influenced too easily and those around him abuse this trust to fulfil there own personal agendas.

Should these decisions fall short of what is expected then it will be the leader, the one who chose that said decision, who would come out looking bad, and not the person who actually put forward the wrong solution. This then moves us on to discussing the characteristics that are required to make a successful leader, something that several of Mr. Howard's predecessors clearly lacked. The following quote by Liam Fox is something of a character reference for the new Conservative leader.