What do the Lib Dems need from the party’s next Chief Executive?

As readers of Liberal Democrat News — and the party’s website — will know the Lib Dem are searching for a new chief executive to succeed Chris Fox. Here’s the job ad:

The Liberal Democrat Party is appointing a new Chief Executive.
Liberal Democrat Headquarters, London, SW1

The Chief Executive leads the Party administration and directs the human, financial and administrative resources of the Party – both its senior professional team and its membership and supporter base. He or she will bring energy and outstanding leadership to this crucial job. The post is based in the Party’s new headquarters in the heart of Whitehall.

In addition to day-to-day operations, the Chief Executive will be expected to focus on a number of important areas:

  • Growing the Party and improving its impact by developing world-class Policy, Communications, Campaigns and Marketing teams, ensuring that the voice and influence of the Liberal Democrats continues to grow.
  • Reviewing and further improving the structure, systems and processes of the Party, further embedding efficiency, integrity and transparency at the heart of all its operations.
  • Further developing the Party’s fundraising infrastructure in order to meet challenging financial targets.
  • Building the team that will fight the General Election in 2015.

Candidates will be required to demonstrate:

  • A track record of strategic and operational management within either public, not for profit or private sector organisations.
  • Understanding of the challenges of working in a highly competitive, fast changing, and public organisation.
  • An ability to work effectively in a political and campaigning environment.
  • A strong commitment to the Liberal Democrat cause and a deep understanding of the UK political environment.
  • For further information and details of how to apply, please contact our employment agency advisor, Saxton Bampfylde Ltd, at [email protected] or telephone +44 (0)20 7227 0890 (during office hours); or at www.saxbam.com/jobs reference BALDB.

    Applications should arrive no later than 12pm, Monday 3 October.

    The party has benefited from two quite different chief executives in its recent history: first, the campaigning supremo Chris (now Lord) Rennard, and then Chris Fox, who focused on readying the party for the 2010 election then having to entirely re-structure it when the Coalition was formed and the party’s loss of ‘Short money’ forced a wholesale re-organisation.

    The new chief executive will be expected to set out a strategy that will prepare the party for the 2015 election and life beyond the Coalition. What do Voice readers think should be her or his top three priorities?

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    This entry was posted in Party policy and internal matters.
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    10 Comments

    • David Allen 1st Oct '11 - 7:42pm

      I think you’ve found priority 3, Rich. Priority 2 is persuading the public to forgive us for those mistakes. Priority 1 is to take the essential step without which we cannot possibly hope to achieve either priority 2 or priority 3.

      I know what step I think is essential – a leadership change. Would anyone like to suggest a viable alternative?

    • Andrew Duffield 1st Oct '11 - 9:01pm

      We don’t need to embrace a new leader – just a Liberal policy, or three:

      1. A progressive tax shift from wealth creation to wealth appropriation
      2. A universal Citizen’s Income in place of benefits and tax allowances
      3. Debt-free money, spent into circulation – not issued by private banks

    • Alan Muhammed Alan Muhammed 1st Oct '11 - 9:18pm

      Chris Fox has overall done a great job and Chris Rennard was brilliant too.

      I don’t know what the actual process is, but I have some thoughts.

      If I’m not mistaken, in most other organisations, unless there is a good reason for this not to be the case, the outgoing Chief Executive is normally responsible for determining their own succession, including the timetable and sometimes the worthy candidate(s). So, is that the case in this situation?

      Also, while they may not always be directly involved, they have insight and powers contribute to the process even if they’re not supposed to (the network of contacts, arranging for a potential contact to be made known to someone who is key to making the decisions).

      Lets face it, the only person who know the demands of the current role advertised (and importantly – unadvertised) is the current Chief Executive and those he works most closely with.

      So I suppose the question you should ask is, who does Chris Fox want?

    • Ed Maxfield 2nd Oct '11 - 7:04am

      Alan! The very last person who should be setting the terms of reference for a new CEO is the out-going one. A change of leadership in any organisation is an opportunity to bring fresh ideas and an outsider’s eye on organisational direction. If all they do is ask what their predecessor wanted they clearly dont have the leadership skills required.

      (I’ve seen a few CEO changes in the real world and in practice they usually follow a pattern of ‘re-focusing on core priorities’, re-engineering some processes and sacking a few people, usually with a consultation thrown in because ‘nothing is decided yet’…)

      The new Chief Exec’s priorities are pretty clear: look at the people and structures that the party organisation has and make sure they are the best possible ones to fight the 2015 election; make sure we dont waste money and figure out how best to raise some more; have a leadership vision for the ‘organisation side’ of the party and communicate it effectively.

      I’m old fashioned enough to believe that the Chief Exec should not be involved in policy development, deciding the party leader or deciding its strategy with regard to government. I’d rather stick with letting the party membership have the last say on those.

    • david thorpe 2nd Oct '11 - 10:48am

      the ceo has no impiut on polivy, or on whom the leader of the oarty in parlaiment is, so why tghatrs being raised I dont know.
      ” andrew what thhe hell is debt free money?
      do you mean QE, which has some merit but is massively inflationary and therefore regressive
      There is nothing liberal about arbitrarily appropriosting someons wealth, I’d loo show me the libgeral thinker whoa dvoactes that. if we dont craete welathm then there wont be the reosurces to change the world.
      But as I say, all of thats irrelevant to the CEO, who has no impact on policy or its implementation.
      As for a leadership chance to the parlaimentray leadership..Im sure one will happen before the next electiuon, but its got nothing to do with the CEO(nor would it be liberal if it did, the CEO not being elected himnself, so he deciding who replaces an elected leader would be massivley not democartic, not prohgresisve and not liberal

      I suggest you bnoth go and read some liberal thinbkers then maybe yoou can try to commenbtm, there are many appropriuate threads on whcih to do so

    • Andrew Suffield 2nd Oct '11 - 4:10pm

      I know what step I think is essential – a leadership change.

      Is that really David Allen? I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t know this has got nothing to do with the executive.

    • Dave Warren 2nd Oct '11 - 7:21pm

      Improving communications between party HQ and the members must be a priority

      The current situation leaves a lot to be desired.

    • David Allen 2nd Oct '11 - 10:51pm

      OK Andrew, formally you’re right of course, the CE’s job is to provide the administrative backup, which will provide the political leadership with the chance to succeed. But the CE’s job description also rightly calls for “a deep understanding of the UK political environment”. Such an understanding might help a prospective candidate for the job recognise that, however well they might organise and administrate, nothing will come of it without credible leadership.

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