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What with all this weather and a busy desk, I haven’t focused much on politics of late. Even Ardern’s resignation and Hipkins’ rise to the top has largely passed me by. So much so, that it was my mother-in-law in the UK who told me the news – although this probably tells you more about the propensity for mothers-in-law to live on Facebook these days than my political absenteeism. This morning however, with a blog to write, I thought I’d do some catching up. At first, it would appear that Chris Hipkins’ appointment as Prime Minister falls firmly into the “sacrificial lamb” category. With National slaying Labour in the polls, a cheery political wet-blanket could be laid upon anti-abortionist Chris Luxon’s stony alter and run-through with his hairless purple dagger. Labour could then lick their wounds, blame the Ardern/Hipkins cabal, regroup, and go at it next time as the plucky opposition. Politics isn’t quite like this however. According to a 1News-Kantar poll, Hipkins appointment has seen a 5 point surge in Labour’s popularity. This puts them level pegging with National. Although 5 points is a lot, it’s worth remembering that Ardern achieved a 13 point spike when she took over from Andrew Little. It does mean however that Labour have hope, and with a former PM to blame for the mistakes, paired with the opportunity to take the credit, Hipkins is trying to turn this into an election¬† based on policies, not history. So far we’ve seen a reversal on the petrol tax-cut, which is populist politics at its best, the death of “3 Waters” which, as far as I can see was a fine plan and only objected to by the tin-hat wearing “ban 1080” conspiracy brigade, and even a question mark placed over Auckland Light Rail, as Aucklanders would rather sit in traffic listening to Mike Hosking.

None of this matters however.

The next election will be won or lost not on policies, but on who average New Zealanders “like” the most. I use quotation marks as “like” perhaps isn’t the correct word, it’s just too early on a Friday to think of a better one. What I mean is that sadly the race to power is almost always a popularity contest, and this usually has little bearing on policy. I remember well Jacinda Ardern winning over National supporters. I could not name a single one of her policy pledges (actually, that’s not quite true – I think she promised us….Light Rail!) in the lead up to this. No. People were just in love with her and what she represented. And this is how the world really works.

Of course this a recruitment blog, so what relevance does this have? Well, quite a lot actually. I am currently working with a phenomenal candidate. They are interviewing with a small number of excellent, high-performing agencies. I believe that every one of these agencies will put an offer out to this person. Thankfully for the candidate (and me who sends the invoice), they could accept any of these offers and have a fantastic career. However, the candidate will, at some point next week, have to decide who to work for. Already, I see each hiring manager jockeying for position; each trying to impress, each laying on the charm. I’ve received detailed commission plans and nicely designed PDFs with all the benefits laid out. We talk about “wellness days”, “half-day Fridays”, “warm desks”, and “parachute payments”. All fantastic and all great news for the candidate. They won’t be the deciding factor however. Instead, it will come down to which leader the candidate “likes” most. And when it comes to candidates liking managers, in my nearly 20 years a Recruiter, I’ve noticed a hierarchy. From least attractive to most, these are the 4 types of managers who we encounter in every profession:

  1. Non-charismatic d*ckheads
  2. Non-charismatic non-d*ckheads
  3. Charismatic d*ckheads
  4. Charismatic non-d*ckheads

Now I’m no Organisational Psychologist, but with gems like this, maybe I should be. The first and last entries are of course obvious. What is marginally more interesting is how the charismatic d*ckhead hiring manager tends to land the candidate over the non-charismatic non-d*ckhead. They say that in love, nice guys finish last, and perhaps we are seeing the same thing happening here. There is something about a self-assured leader, who can grab a room’s attention, that makes us forget a number of their failings. Just look at some of the people who have built fantastic careers in global recruitment agencies. Many fall into the Charismatic d*ckhead category. I should add that just because someone is a d*ckhead doesn’t mean we can’t like them. I say this as a confirmed d*ckhead myself. However, it does highlight the importance of the “x factor” when we’re trying to woo a candidate to work for us. We can be as nice as pie, but nice pies finish last.

Anyway, back to politics. Based on the above, and if you think Luxon has more charisma than Beano Schoolboy Hipkins, then we’d have to predict National receiving more votes. Whether the “king makers” will translate this into a National win is another story.

Stay safe New Zealand and don’t tit around in flood waters.

^SW