So much of my work these days focuses on trade union leadership particularly within the debate around decline and renewal. Amongst other areas of work I have been monitoring for the GFTU the roll-out of a pilot series of courses on leadership and management, accredited by the Institute for Leadership and Management (ILM), at Northern College.
This weekend I am teaching on a leadership development course that falls under the auspices of a 2008-10 GFTU-Ruskin College UMF project around researching and developing future leaders.
Just recently though I have been wondering about the role and significance of classic trade union leaders not least Ken Gill (pictured above) who sadly passed away recently. Even the right-wing press gave him grudging credit for his discipline, deceny and effectivness: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article6359702.ece
In thinking this through and placing it within the broader discussions around the future shape and function of trade unionism (particularly in the UK) the distinctions between transformational and transaction leaderships of old become very interesting.
I do ask trade union studies students of this subject what their perspective is of leadership for the future. Typically the reply is that it must be much more diverse, reflective of the views and aspirations of workers and supportive of methods to effect and reflect responsive in structure and policy - tall orders indeed!
At the same time however significant interest in this new layer of trade union education should, I think, be seen as one way to, albeit gradually, to question where we are going as a movement and to properly refine and understand who should be in the vanguard of this.
If I can pose a question here based on the title for this post - what's the point of trade union leadership?
Contributions very much welcome.