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June O'Sullivan, LEYF CEO

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Leadership elections or popularity contest, you decide.

On Friday, I was delighted to be able to give the keynote speech to the staff of Rainbow Trust, a children’s charity led by their energetic and committed CEO Heather Wood, and one that provides emotional and practical support to families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness.

I am always energised by a good audience and they were great fun, so all in all it was a win-win situation, as I expounded on how good leadership is key if you want to make a difference. It’s a subject I also presented the following day at the Manchester TES Resources conference, and once again it was interesting to get feedback from so many truly committed people, desperate for tips on how to remain good at leading, and at the same time alive and alert to new ways of doing it. I started by suggesting they deserved a star for giving up the only dry Saturday we’ve had of late, or in fact are likely to have in the near future!

On the train back I mused on the more pressing leadership contest in London; yep, the Mayoral and London Assembly elections. Thursday, 3 May gets us a new Mayor (or at least a recycled one), along with 25 London Assembly members. Up to now, I have hardly noticed there even was an election campaign, that was until we had a visit from Harriet Harman and a gaggle of London Assembly candidates to one of our nurseries last week. Clearly some of them need to learn from her polished and experienced performance, and at least try to seem interested. The visit was to raise the importance of childcare to the economy; a subject we have heard very little of so far. Naturally, I have written to both candidates and asked for the re-introduction of the CAP, which Ken introduced during his time in office. Although cumbersome and bureaucratic, it helped women into work by supporting childcare costs, and also offered childcare support to parents whose children are disabled.

So far, what we have seen of this campaign is a few adolescent spats between Boris and Ken, Brian playing the good policeman and Jenny Jones trying to get a voice by being green, not forgetting a few independents – most notably Siobhan Benita, hoping to be elected because she is independent and so above party politics. If only that were enough! She clearly needs to watch more of The Thick of It.

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”

Peter Drucker

Either way, you just have to read their blurb; all grand statements about the usual (transport, fares, housing and crime). And of course, everyone loves an apprentice. To give him his dues, the only one who even mentions childcare is Ken. He suggests grants and interest free loans as well as a campaign against government cuts to child tax credits. But will that be enough to get him our vote, or will Boris’ charm win out once again? Either way it feels like a two horse race. Wrong says my son, apparently Lawrence Webb from UKIP is the bookies favourite! …Lawrence Who??

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