Cameron smart to show his hand on tenure

London Business School expert says clear intentions drive trust

David Cameron was smart to show his hand on tenure, says Richard Hytner, Adjunct Professor of Marketing, London Business School and author of Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows.

Hytner, who is also Deputy Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, told Sky News: “Given our increasing disdain for spin, he gave a candid answer and showed authentic leadership. It shows he has a healthy relationship with power, not craving too much of it for too long. Most leaders have had their best ideas and a chance to make them happen in 10 years or two terms.”

Many have questioned the wisdom of such a bold announcement asking if it will diminish the Prime Minister’s authority. But Hytner argues it was a shrewd move.

“Cameron's talent around him knows where he stands and therefore where they stand. In business, we would find that helpful. Clear intentions and reciprocity of interest drive trust. Lack of clear intentions leads to mischief.”

Cameron’s announcement that he does not want to stand for a third term has sparked debate about potential successors. It’s an issue that looks set to dominate the next parliament if the Conservatives win. And the pressure will be on, Hytner says.

“In business we would know if we had been named as contenders that it was incumbent on us to raise our performance. Superior performance is the most reliable objective to pursue in a succession race.”

Cameron has alluded to potential contenders in his comments.

“Was his naming of possible successors significant?” Hytner asks. “He used the words, Mays, Osbornes and Johnsons as representative of the talent he has around him.”

But Hytner himself wouldn’t rule out a wild card.

“I would not rule out an unknown emerging, much as one just did at Google for Larry Page.”