Anyone running a business knows that it’s important to develop and keep up with the times. Today, that means adopting as many skills as possible, but how can you access skills that aren’t already present internally? Well, the answer to that could be over at the London Evening Standard.
When George Osborne announced that he was going to be the next editor of the Evening Standard newspaper, it probably went down like a lead balloon for his Tatton constituents and certainly had a few others scratching their heads; however it could prove to be coup for the owners of the newspaper.
Since hanging up his chancellor’s red briefcase, it was a fair assumption that the MP might have had more time on his hands. Of course, there are some MPs that take on their responsibilities as their constituency’s spokesperson, as their sole, full-time job.
But Osborne is proving to be quite the multi-tasker. In addition to juggling the two balls of being MP and newspaper editor, he’s also an advisor to global investment firm BlackRock and earns a few quid from black-tie speeches.
This has pricked the ears of those in the corridors of power and led to Lord Bew, chair of the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life, announcing the government standards watchdog is launching an investigation into MPs’ second jobs and any other ‘outside interests’ that they might have.
The government hasn’t pointed the finger and stated that this is a direct result of Osborne’s new career path, but we can only assume that it has helped to bring the issue into sharp focus.
All that aside, you have to consider why the owner of the Evening Standard, Evgeny Lebedev, made the decision to give the editor’s seat to such a recognised public figure, with a colourful political background, rather than a journalist with an unbiased disposition and years spent slogging away in the industry, hoping to one day catch their big break at the top.
But there may be method to the madness. As business owners, we are all obsessed, quite rightly, with finding people that are highly-skilled, or can be developed into highly-skilled, workers.
But sometimes, even with the most skilled and talented people at your disposal, a business can still fail to perform as a result of poor management. Just look at a procession of former England football managers to see that in practice!
Therefore, a leader needs to have more than the skills gained from working in the industry. They need to be organised, decisive, confident and ambitious.
Osborne certainly has some of these qualities. The Evening Standard is a capital city paper going out to Londoners, many of which care about what’s going on in Westminster. He certainly has plenty of political experience, invaluable connections and has had the responsibility of managing the coin in the country’s pocket.
Lebedev, as a businessman himself, has seen the benefits of having someone with Osborne’s connections and experience in charge of the Evening Standard. Suddenly, he can bring a lot to the table and may prove to have that extra inch of foot in the door, ready for the journalists to swing in, get the scoop and deliver to the paper’s fellow Londoners.
If he can do this, whilst making sure that his constituents’ needs are in no way being compromised, then this refreshing approach to recruitment could become more common in other areas of business in the future.
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