How Do You Solve a Problem Like Kevin?

Last Updated Jun 21, 2010 11:18 PM EDT

(Apologies to Oscar Hammerstein II)
One consequence of the recent slump in popularity of Prime Minister of Kevin Rudd has been the increased analysis of his personality by the media. David Marr's essay Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd has been the focus of much comment. Describing Kevin Rudd as a moody, foul mouthed, slave-driving devil for detail, Marr uses Freudian analysis to suggest that Kevin Rudd is driven by the anger at his difficult childhood. His father died when he was 11 and he and his mother were tossed off the farm where they were living. He ended up going to Ashgrove school as a charity case where he had a very difficult time. He subsequently moved to Nambour High where he went beyond being the school swot and developed a steely determination to succeed.

Rudd rose to the leadership of the Labor Party through hard and lonely work. He was never part of a faction. Then, when he won the 2007 election, he told the faction leaders that he would choose his cabinet, not them. Since then he has run government in a highly centralised manner with a kitchen cabinet of three others Gillard, Swan and Tanner. It defies belief that the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, was only aware of announcement of the Resources Super Profit Tax two days before it occurred.

I would put Rudd's problems down to a lack of emotional intelligence. In particular he does not really know what drives him. He talks in a monotonic, convoluted fashion, in a non-passionate way, has few friends, is very hard working, and when he gets a bee in his bonnet refuses to accept any contrary views. Rudd (and I now use him as an example in my workshops) is dominated by the Engineer component whose core desire is to complete projects. Yes, he has some Hustler and Politician but it is the Engineer which dominates all.

His comment to a journalist after the latest slump was revealing: "I am just going to have to work harder." This is what an Engineer does and why they are so good at projects but generally so poor at politics. Also he clearly demonstrates his lack of social empathy. Rudd is notorious for calling meetings at 10pm on Saturday night and then turning up at 1am.

Ronald Reagan gave very useful advice to future political leaders: "Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere as long as the policy you have decided upon is being carried out."
It is speaks volumes that the one major success of Rudd's government is the resolution of the impasse with Telstra, though it appears that Rudd had very little input there and it was achieved by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy.