Tory leader wins first popularity contest as even Margaret Thatcher beats PM-in-waiting in top boss vote

Tory leader David Cameron has scored the first points of the political conference season as research reveals he is the political leader most people would like to have as their boss.

The future doesn’t bode so well for Labour with more than twice as many UK employees saying they preferred prime minister Tony Blair to (PM-in-waiting) chancellor Gordon Brown, according to YouGov research conducted on behalf of HR consultancy Hudson.

Brown – widely tipped to take over from Blair before the next election – might be concerned that he received just 8% of the 2,400 votes compared to the prime minister’s 17% and Cameron’s 18%. However, he at least beat the Liberals, with Sir Menzies Campbell attracting just 7% of the vote.

US president George Bush was the least favoured political boss among UK respondents, attracting just 1% of the vote, while, despite not being in office for 16 years, Margaret Thatcher was voted as the boss-of-choice by 14% of respondents.

However, almost one third (31%) did not know which of the candidates they would rather work for, suggesting a lack of interest in the political leadership options available.

Respondents chose ‘a willingness to trust workers’ (46%), ‘integrity’ (41%) and ‘an ability to motivate’ (41%) as the three most important characteristics of a good leader.

The qualities respondents placed least emphasis on were ‘ruthlessness’ (1%), ‘intuition’ (3%) and ‘ambition’ (4%).

The findings suggest that the ambition of a leader like Brown is a turn-off for employees, whereas Cameron’s early displays of candour and a willingness to listen are more inspiring.

John Rose, chief executive, Hudson UK, said the political conference season was an early opportunity for the party figureheads to demonstrate to their members and the electorate that they should lead their party – and the country.

“Those at the top in business and politics would do well to take note that people want honest, motivational leadership.” he said. “But above all, they want to feel trusted. In today’s workplace, employees need to be given autonomy, to be able to assume responsibilities and to be empowered to deliver. Figures who have worked to appear empathetic (like Blair), or willing to listen (like Cameron), strike a chord with UK workers.”

Other notable findings from the research:

  • Respect MP George “would you like me to be the cat” Galloway appealed to 3%

  • Tony Blair’s popularity is highest in the North, where he polled 21% of the vote.

  • Margaret Thatcher was more popular among male respondents (17% compared to 12% of women).

  • In Scotland, 15% of respondents voted for Sir Menzies Campbell, double the national average.

  • Lack of interest was most prevalent among female respondents, with 35% not finding any of the candidates inspiring as a potential boss.

  • Only 6% of respondents placed ‘maturity’ in their top-three leadership traits

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