Margaret Thatcher Essay Sample

Margaret Thatcher Pages
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Introduction

“Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become…habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.” “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” “If you lead a country like Britain, a strong country, a country which has taken a lead in world affairs in good times and in bad, a country that is always reliable, then you have to have a touch of iron about you” “Being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to remind people you are, you aren’t.” Those are my favorite quotations from the Iron Lady, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died on the 8th of April, 2013. She understood that leadership is not about titles or photo ops or posturing. True leadership is about authenticity, standing up for principles, even in the face of strong opposition.

To her admirers, Margaret Thatcher was an iconic national heroine who ended Britain’s post-World War II cycle of decline. Her angry critics saw her as a destroyer of industry. But no one doubted her dedication and resolve of Britain’s major problems. Unfortunately, much of today’s psychobabble about leadership has the wrong focus. A lot of the training and development in our corporations focuses on learning about things. People learn what to think, not how to think. They learn what to do, not how to be. They learn what to achieve, not how to achieve. They learn all about things, but very little about the nature of things. And these are the characteristics which she demonstrated the most…“How to” instead of “What to”. Popular definitions of leadership also tend to be externalized.

Many of the definitions focus on the outer manifestations of leadership—such as vision, judgment, creativity, drive, charisma, podium presence, etc.—rather than getting to the essence of leadership itself. This external pattern continues at the organizational level. People often receive recognition for their external mastery. Success is often measured in terms of revenue, profit, new product breakthroughs, cost containment, market share, and many other familiar metrics. Clearly there’s value in achieving and measuring external results. But that’s not the real issue. The more relevant issues are (1) What produces the external results? and (2) What enables the sustaining of good external results? The answer to the first question is leadership.

The answer to the second question is great leadership, the authentic variety.

What is authentic leadership? We can take a cue from another Margaret Thatcher quotation. On the surface, it seems to be about politics and economics. But it underscores the importance of rejecting the trappings of leadership in favor of self-reliance on principle: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Abstract

Margaret Thatcher is the first woman to be honored as the Prime Minister of United Kingdom. She was the first woman to lead major political party of the country. Being the leader of the Conservative Part, Margaret Thatcher has acted upon many important positions and took major responsibility. She was elected for the premiership in 1979 and after which she was re-elected for consecutively 3 times. She is still recognized as a revolutionary figure; the one who has revitalized the economy of Britain, impacted Trade Union, transformed UK into a fast growing country and established the same as one of the major world powers.

Birth Details & Personal Biography of Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher was born on October 13th October, 1925 in a town of Grantham in Lincolnshire. Margaret Thatcher’s father Alfred Roberts was owner of some grocery shops and along with it he was also an active participant in local politics. Thatcher completed his primary education from Hunting Tower Road Primary School and Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School. Margaret completed her graduation from Somerville College and later went to Oxford in 1943 for her specialization in Chemistry. During her tenure in Oxford University, Margaret was elected as the President of Oxford University Conservative Association in 1946. After her post-graduation from Oxford Thatcher moved to Colchester for her research work. During this time she joined the local conservative association of Colchester and finally in 1949 she moved to Dart Ford to stand for the election of Member of Parliament.

Career of Margaret Thatcher:

Margaret Thatcher was an active participant in the political moves of her country from a very early age. During her study days Thatcher was elected as the President of Oxford University Conservative Association. She made her first move for serious political career in the year 1949. Her career line was as follows: In 1950, Thatcher contested for the safe labor seat in Dart Ford but was not elected. Thatcher was the youngest ever female candidate of Conservative Party. In 1967, Margaret Thatcher was invited by the Embassy of the United States in London to participate in the International Visitor leadership Program. In 1979, Thatcher was the first woman in United Kingdom to be elected as the PM on 4th May. In 1992, she became the member of the House of Lords.

From 1993 to 2000 Margaret served as a Chancellor of the College of William and Mary in Virginia

Rise To Prominence & ‘Thatcherism’

The Conservative Party lost power in 1974 and she soon became a dominant force in her political arena. She got elected as leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, beating Edward Heath and became the first woman to serve as the opposition leader in the House of Commons, winning 130 votes against 119. She was finally appointed as the Prime Minister on May 4, 1979 defeating the opposition party which was unpopular and divided. Britain’s economy in 1979 was in dire financial crisis and Thatcher’s first term in office saw her adopting a new economic theory known as ‘Monetarism’. During this time, she also changed government regulations on business and subsidies, resulting in business failures, higher unemployment and mounting inflation. She countered this problem with a change in taxation policies and money circulation, which reduced inflation levels while hushing public and economic opposition.

In the beginning of the 1980s, the ‘Thatcher’ government slowly began to gain popularity after their success in Falklands War. Argentina invaded Falkland, a British island in the southern hemisphere, in April 1982. Thatcher directed the British island to victory, which boosted her government’s popularity. The success of the Falklands War led to the Conservatives winning by a large majority during the General Elections of 1982. After the re-election of 1983, the Conservative majority grew and she continued to enact her economic policies.

This time, she welcomed the period of ‘popular capitalism’ and introduced a sweeping drive of denationalizing state monopolies related to telephones, airports, steel and oil. Margaret Thatcher and her government are best identified with a set of policies, practices and ideals known as ‘Thatcherism’. This belief system was founded on the basis of competition, privatization, self-reliance and clamps-down on trade unions. In one critical event of 1984, known as ‘The Miners’ Strike’, she forced the miners back into work with no allowances, after they protested the closure of ‘uneconomic pits’. During this time, she also reduced social service expenses and expressed her dislike of the growing European Union Federalism, which closely became associated with ‘Thatcherism’.

How Thatcher Changed Britain?

When Margaret Hilda Thatcher took over as Prime Minister, in May, 1979. To Britons, she wasn’t merely a famous Conservative politician, a champion of the free market, and a vocal supporter of Ronald Reagan: she was part of Britons mental furniture, and always will be. By the late nineteen-seventies, the social compact that had held Britain together since the Second World War appeared to be coming apart at the seams. During the previous decade, under governments of both major parties, there had been a seemingly endless series of labor strikes, which had brought the country to a standstill. But in the winter of 1978-79, when the local government unions walked out, leaving the garbage piling up in the streets and the dead laying, unburied, in the morgues, many Brits decided that enough was enough. In subsequent years, her name would come to be associated with laissez-faire economists like Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman. But Thatcher’s guiding philosophy was really more homespun. It emanated from the shop she lived above with her mother and father, Alderman Albert Roberts, who believed in hard work, thrift, and balancing the books.

“Some say I preach merely the homilies of housekeeping or the parables of the parlour” Thatcher said, in a 1982 speech to a banquet of grandees in the City of London. “But I do not repent. Those parables would have saved many a financier from failure and many a country from crisis.” Beset by a big budget deficit and a falling pound, the previous Labor government had been forced to go cap-in-hand to the International Monetary Fund for an emergency loan. Mrs. Thatcher, an English patriot of the school of Elgar and Churchill, considered that a national humiliation. As part of a commitment to bring down inflation and balance the budget, her government cut spending sharply, and when the inevitable recession ensued, Thatcher resisted calls for a change in strategy, telling the Conservative party conference in 1981, “The lady’s not for turning.” Seemingly the only two people who doubted that Thatcher would send a military force to retake the tiny islands in the South Atlantic, whose two-thousand-odd residents were mostly of British descent, were the Argentine dictator and the U.S. Secretary of State, Alexander Haig.

In April, 1982, Haig flew to London to try and broach a diplomatic solution, only to be dispatched back to Washington with a hornet rather than a flea in his ear. “High color is in her cheeks, a note of rising indignation in her voice, she leans across the polished table and flatly rejects what she calls the ‘woolliness’ of our second stage formulation” the U.S. diplomat Jim Rentschler noted in his diary after the fateful meeting between Haig and Thatcher. Like most of Thatcher’s critics, the subsequent war, which saw more than nine hundred people killed—more than two-thirds of them were Argentines—as a pointless exercise in post-colonial posturing. Mrs. Thatcher, egged on by the Murdoch/Rothermere/Harmsworth tabloids, reveled in playing the role of Lord Palmerston and teaching Johnny Foreigner a lesson. “What was the alternative?” she wrote in her memoirs. “That a common or garden dictator should rule over the queen’s subjects and prevail by fraud and violence? Not while I was prime minister.” If the British expeditionary force had been defeated, she would have been finished.

But the Argentine conscripts were no match for the professional British soldiers, and Thatcher was triumphant. Emerging from 10 Downing Street on a dark April evening, she stood beside John Nott, her Defense Minister, as he announced the Argentine surrender on South Georgia, a neighboring island to the Falklands, following a British naval bombardment. Refusing to take any questions from the assembled hacks, she instead instructed them: “Just rejoice at that news, and congratulate our forces and the marines. Good night, gentlemen.” That sounded like rejoicing at the opening engagement of a war that, within weeks, would claim the lives of nearly a thousand people. Thatcher was fortunate in her opponents. During the 1983 general-election campaign, Michael Foot, the bookish leftist who headed the Labor Party, gave a speech at Oxford Town Hall. As he walked from the stage, raising his cane in the air, the crowd of students, academics, and Labor activists gave him a tremendous reception. But out in the public projects east of the city, foot and his party were much less popular.

When the votes were counted on election Day, Thatcher had scored the most decisive win since Labor’s historic victory in 1945. The following year, she crushed Arthur Scargill’s National Union of Mineworkers, and her domestic triumph was complete. In 1986-87, with the issuing of publicly-traded shares by British Telecom, which had previously been publicly owned, Thatcher’s great privatization experiment had begun—an experiment that would be copied worldwide. In 1991, it was a country transformed. The unions had been tamed, the utilities had been privatized, welfare benefits had been cut back, the City of London had been deregulated, the property market had boomed (and busted), and the multi-channel celebrity culture had been unleashed. For good or ill, Britain had become a modern capitalist society. Thatcher had gone, though. And, just by coincidence, the world had seen her at her moment of defeat.

In November, 1990, Mrs. Thatcher, then in her third term as Prime Minister, was in France, for some summit or another. That very day, back in London, she had been subjected to the indignity of a leadership challenge by Michael Heseltine, an ambitious Tory with whom she had long had frosty relations. After eleven years of her running things, even many Tories had had their fill. Though she defeated Heseltine in an initial ballot of Conservative M.P.s, her margin of victory wasn’t large enough to avoid a second ballot. Later on accompanied by Sir Bernard Ingham, her faithful spokesman, who was from Yorkshire, she eventually came out into a courtyard, her face ashen, and made a short statement saying she intended to fight on. But the fatal blow had been inflicted. After she returned to London, several senior colleagues told her they would support somebody else in a second ballot. Facing the humiliating prospect of defeat, she announced her withdrawal from the leadership contest, which John Major went on to win. Bemused foreigners were left to ask how the great British leader could have lost power without ever having been defeated at the ballot box. Evidently, Thatcher often asked herself the same question.

Though she maintained a public silence, her allies let it be known that she felt betrayed. In the ensuing months, via a series of leaks, she consistently undermined Major, who was guilty, among other things, of striking a more pro-European stance than she favored. Removed from the stage she craved, she flew around the world giving speeches. During the Q. & A. session, Bill Schreyer, the chairman of Merrill Lynch, asked her about reports that she had been privately criticizing Major. According to the report for the Sunday Times, “a nervous hush fell over the ballroom.” Perhaps that was a bit of poetic license, but Thatcher didn’t disappoint. After lashing out at the media—“very rarely do they get it right”—she pointed out that big and consequential decisions had to be made about Britain’s future, such as whether to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, which was the precursor to the euro.

“The more openly we discuss them, the more thoroughly we discuss them, the better” she said. “So I think a little less silence might be called for on my part.” Several British reporters immediately ran for the phones—no cell phones in those days. In London, first-edition time was approaching, and this was front-page material. “Maggie vows: ‘I won’t be muzzled” said one of the journalists, rehearsing a potential headline. “Maggie launches new crusade on Europe,” offered another. Until today,Thatcher, who, shunned by her party and, eventually, stricken by Alzheimers, gradually faded into the background, until Meryl Streep, in the 2011 film “The Iron Lady,” defied a script heavily focused on the title figure’s encroaching dementia to show some of her vigor and obstreperousness.

In Thatcher’s death, as is the custom, we will be deluged with tributes and under-cooked analyses. A ceremonial funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral has been prepared. the debate about her legacy is raging, with Bernard Ingham describing her as the greatest Prime Minister of the twentieth century and some of her former foes describing her as an obdurate, uncaring warmonger. Ed Miliband, the current leader of the Labor Party, offered a more carefully-crafted statement: “She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain’s first woman prime minister. She moved the center ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage. The Labor Party disagreed with much of what she did, and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.”

Analysis of Leadership Style

It is a comment that has been tripped out many times in the last few days, that regardless of her other achievements Margaret Thatcher’s place in the history books was guaranteed on the 3rd of May 1979, when she was elected Europe’s first female prime minister. She needed to do no more to be recorded in the annals of history, but as we know she did so much more.

Barack Obama noted “she stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered”, and while in general terms he is right, both these comments entirely miss the point, because Thatcher’s existence and modus operandi were entirely unconnected with her being a woman or any intention to play a feminist role.

Her legacy from a leadership role is an intriguing one; by any standards she was not a collaborative leader. In the constituency one larger than the UK, where she did not hold nearly as many trump cards, Europe, she was just as clear-sighted and full of conviction as she was at Westminster, but asides from the much trumpeted ‘rebate’ that she won back by sheer bloody-minded attrition of her Euro-counterparts, she failed in most of her European objectives. The powers in Europe work on a much more collaborative and negotiated set of rules than she was willing to play by, and her single-minded approach failed her and her followers. She was unwilling to bend.

The interesting thing is that Europe then, unlike today, was not a broken force. The United Kingdom however was a very sick nation when she came to power. It is always easier to become celebrated for raising the dead than ministering to a largely healthy body that has a slight cold, and so her transformation of the UK was made easier by the fact she had so much broken material to work with. This is not to say that her achievements were anything other than remarkable and ground-breaking. While the UK’s current coalition government inherited a similarly trashed economy, they have not had the level of ingrained deprivation that Thatcher faced in 1979. Nor, incidentally, have they concocted such a stridently different approach to the prevailing politics, though coalition inevitably forces compromise.

So how was she as a leader? She was very much the kind of leader now out of fashion… the heroic, charismatic one. And she was able to pull this off as she was electorally strong. Her much maligned successor, John Major, perhaps achieved more if you add in the handicaps of his slender and shrinking parliamentary majority, disaffected MP’s aware their chance of high office was long gone 12 years into a Tory government, and the post-Thatcher poll tax resentment in the populace. Thatcher had none of these handicaps and her luck in pulling off victory in the Falkland’s War, which was a super-gamble, set her in good stead for her later battles.

For, as her biographer Charles Moore describes, her outstanding characteristic was a willingness to fight. Not just the Argentineans, but Libyan terrorists at the embassy siege when most people advised her against the SAS solution, the IRA hunger-strikers when 10 prisoners starved themselves to death and she did not yield, and most famously the miners who ran a badly planned but belligerent strike against her. Her military choices were probably lucky, her political ones were the sign of an acute political sense…but as noted, they only worked at home when she was in full command.

This makes her seem entirely ruthless, but there are plenty of anecdotes that suggest she was not as iron on the inside as the outside, apparently weeping for 40 minutes on hearing of the sinking of a Falklands troop ship.

So if her external leadership style was very much a bombastic, conviction one, suited only to fixing the apparently terminally broken; her internal leadership style was more, to use a modern term, ambidextrous. She bullied and cajoled her senior Ministers, essentially to tease out whether they could defend their stances, and as she was a master at detail they rarely bested her and so felt humiliated. Her long-time spokesman, Bernard Ingham, who was always an ardent fan, described her as “the most tactless woman I ever met”. And ultimately both in Europe and in her Cabinet this fervent approach to debate won her a dwindling number of allies, as her political judgment lost its acuity in the hubris of her later years as Prime Minister

But at the same time, she is remembered for her care and appreciation for those not at her level. Secretaries recall her running baths for them, acolytes remember her running upstairs to get cold cures for them… In this respect she was a ‘servant leader’ enabling and caring for her troops.

Like all great leaders she used her strengths, and her femininity in a man’s world was definitely part of that, to her advantage, but she was not the team player or listening leader that most organizations require these days.

In sum the country was transformed by her, and so was the world (particularly those parts where collaborative negotiations were not on the agenda, the Cold War). She was very much of her time; the world would have looked very different without her, and on balance probably not as robust as it is today. But her style was one for particular times, and in many ways we have to hope that the world continues to have less need for such leaders for a long time to come.

Trait Theory and Directive Leadership

People who have been labeled as great or effective leaders have very different qualities. Thatcher demonstrated an ability to navigate a cut-throat world of British politics. Directive leadership is characterized by leaders taking decisions for others and expecting followers or subordinates to follow instructions. In comparison the former Tory Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken stated MT’s relationship with her colleagues never involved her exerting power over the cabinet. Margaret Thatcher has said; “I shan’t be pulling the levers there but I shall be a very good back-seat driver”. (igreens.org, 2006)

Autocratic Leadership

Margaret Thatcher in the Iron Lady could be described as an Authoritarian also known as an Autocratic Leader. Autocratic leaders, tend to be controlling in nature and strive for Authority and Power. Thatcher’s Autocratic Leadership traits are:

* Clear direction.
* Little or no input from the general population .
* Clear divide between leader and population.
* Little time for group decisions.

Autocratic Leaders and the ‘Charisma Theory’

“Autocratic leaders, perhaps typified by Britain’s Iron Lady, are feared for their ‘do as I say’ style of management and complete intolerance of dissent but grudgingly admired for their ability to get things done. This could support the ‘telling’ style which is characterized by giving a great deal of direction to subordinates. Margaret Thatcher has said; “I don’t mind how much my Ministers talk, so long as they do what I say” (igreens.org, 2006).

Thatcher still has a devoted band of followers. And circumstances can make all the difference – in a crisis situation people tend to prefer strong leadership and quick decisions.Max Weber brought the idea of ‘charisma’ to the realm of leadership. He suggested leaders with ‘charisma’ are followed by those in distress. He argues that these leaders are seen to have special talents that can aid situations. However leaders with ‘charisma’ can be turned against as quickly as they were followed, sometimes this is because situations are not resolved or something happens in which the opinion of a person changes negatively. This can result in the destruction of a leader (Doyle and Smith, 2012)

Charismatic Leadership

General characteristics of charismatic leaders include self-confidence, strong vision, ability to articulate the vision, and willingness to make radical changes. An early example of this charismatic leadership style as displayed after winning the 1979 election where she stated; “Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. Where there is despair, may we bring hope”

Transformational and Transactional leadership:

It could be argued that Margaret Thatcher exhibited a Transactional style of leadership. This is based on the idea that a leader forms a relationship with the members of the group based on rewards. These could come in the form of recognition and praise. Alternatively, if relationship was to become strained reprimands could be issued.

A Situational contingecy/ Task orientated leader

A Situational contingency Task orientated leader results from the interaction of leadership style and situational favourability, (Fiedler) A Situational contingency Task orientated leader results from the interaction of leadership style and situational favourability.

Difference of Opinion and the Contingency Approach
The ‘contingency approach’ suggests effective leadership is dependent on a mix of factors these include:
* The structure of the task
* Position power
* The relationship between the leaders and followers

“Margaret Thatcher is a person who arouses strong feelings, within her own party and in other parties, among the general public, not least among her own cabinet colleagues” (King 1985: P.86). It could be suggested Thatcher did not meet all the factors associated with an effective leader in relation to the Contingency Approach as; “There were big disputes between Thatcher and her closest colleagues over Britain’s relations with the European Community.” (Margaret Thatcher Foundation, 2012). Charles Moore describes Margaret Thatcher’s relationship with her colleagues as strained. Stating she was arrogant, not polite and difference of opinion in relation to EU is why they eventually voted her out. (Youtube ) “I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job”. Margaret Thatcher.

Leadership style and Social Climate

Throughout history it could be suggested that the political leadership style that is most powerful and effective is a general reflection of society’s current social and economic climate. For example; in times of unrest and discontent (i.e. in a recession), autocratic leaders will use this as an opportunity to strive and gain authority and control. “Unless we change our ways and our direction, our greatness as a nation will soon be a footnote in the history books, a distant memory of an offshore island, lost in the mists of time like Camelot, remembered kindly for its noble past”. Margaret Thatcher.Top of Form

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