Rishi Sunak: this chapter must not be exciting – that’s why we need a manager

Written by Jo Owen CMgr CCMI Wednesday 09 November 2022
New prime minister Rishi Sunak faces daunting challenges, but the UK needs more management and less leadership from him, says one CMI Companion
Rishi Sunak

Tough times normally call for strong leadership. But does that apply in the case of the UK’s new prime minister, Rishi Sunak? 

Former PM Boris Johnson’s charisma and his successor Liz Truss’ ideological certainty are hard to surpass. Meanwhile, Sunak seems more like the classic manager than a natural leader; he talks of the need for tough decisions, stability and balancing the books. The question is: does the UK need bold leadership or steady management at the moment?

Leadership is about taking people where they would not have got by themselves, and that implies taking risk. Leaders challenge the status quo. The problem with great leadership is that you succeed big or you fail big – just ask Liz Truss. For every leader who confidently leads you to the Promised Land, there is another who equally confidently leads you straight into the desert. For every Elon Musk-led unicorn, there are many more dogs of a business that never escaped the garage.

He is going to have to rely on the 21st-century management skills of influence, persuasion and trust-building to get his way

In my view, the challenges Sunak faces are essentially management challenges that most managers will easily recognise. As with all managers, he faces the familiar problem that expectations exceed resources. It causes stress, conflict and pain, as Sunak is about to find out. Health, justice, education, benefits, defence and infrastructure all expect more spending, but no-one wants to pay more tax. Good luck with that one.

Keep reading to discover Sunak’s familiar challenges – and the “dirty secret” of leadership


If you are already registered as a CMI Friend, Subscriber or Member, just login to view this article.

Confirm your registration

Login below to confirm your details and access this article.


Please confirm that you want to switch off the "Sign in with email" remember me feature.

Register for Free Access

Not yet a Member, Subscriber or Friend? Register as a CMI Friend for free, and get access to this and many other exclusive resources, as well as weekly updates straight to your inbox.

You have successfully registered

As a CMI Friend, you now have access to whole range of CMI Friendship benefits.

Please login to the left to confirm your registration and access the article.