We need a leadership we can be proud of

The election on the weekend has been all over social media, mainstream media and on the minds of many of us over the past few days.

The unambiguous win for the Coalition has left many people reeling, not least of all the Labor Party, and questions have been raised in response to the disparity between polling data, expert opinion, and the final result.

However, through all the chaos and the noise, the resignations and celebration, I have been left with one, burning question.

What really is leadership?

Let's be honest, Australian politics has been a shambles over the past decade.

We haven't seen unity on either side, and the repeated spills have been somewhat of a national embarrassment as those elected to the top job have been marched through the revolving door of leadership at an alarming rate.

Can we claim to have seen the required standard of leadership from our government over this time?

Management, poor management at times, certainly, but leadership?

I'm not convinced.

If you go to a dictionary, leadership is defined as "the action of leading a group of people or an organisation; the state or position of being a leader," and yet I find this description to be definitively lacking.

Leadership doesn't need a job title or a corner office.

It's not just about organising activities, or managing a team.

It's not defined simply by having followers.

Leadership suggests social influence and motivation.

It inspires and drives others to follow towards the achievement of a collective goal, not blindly trudging behind the person in front, operating by rote.

Good leadership commands passion, energy and a belief in something bigger than ourselves.

True leadership should make us want to be better, to achieve more for the greater good.

A prime minister needs to have a sense of national stewardship, of statesmanship: this person needs to have the strength and conviction to stand up for what is right, not what is cheap, or what is expedient, or what will make the party sponsors happy.

At present we seem to have party managers, not party leaders.

We have a manager of the opposition, a cool kids' table for the forming of government, and a whole lot of blind trudgers.

Strong political leadership is a particular type of leadership that we seem to have lost track of in our country.

I crave a political leader I can be proud of.

I seek a leader with charisma and integrity, empathy, intelligence and confidence, someone who knows how much two litres of milk costs and understands the real cost of unemployment beyond the stats on a page.

A prime minister needs to have a sense of national stewardship and statesmanship.

This person needs to have the strength and conviction to stand up for what is right, not what is cheap, or what is expedient, or what will make the party sponsors happy.

It means putting what is right above all else - including an election.

I've seen media reports questioning whether or not the government will "make good" on campaign promises.

Promises of cash infusions into regional areas, infrastructure and support in solving genuine problems people face beyond the metropolitan borders.

Can we call our prime minister a leader if he is only willing to lead those who voted for his party?

Our politicians encourage a divide between the haves and the have-nots, or as our PM put it, the taxed and taxed-nots.

How can we be passionate about our nation's legacy of mateship when we are being managed by a group of politicians who are seemingly targeting this very concept by dividing the people they are supposed to be leading?

When our political parties seem more interested in scare-mongering and deploying an "anti-them" strategy rather than a "pro-us" approach, all they are doing is telling us to "vote for us, we're not quite as bad as the other guy." That's not leadership.

When our PM is telling us we need to disagree better (we do), and yet rose to power himself from the flames of bitter party in-fighting, that's not leadership either.

Perhaps the reasons for this leadership drought are complex and varied. But what would it take to find integrity and honesty, conviction and civic duty in this political day and age?

The passionate days of the late Vale Bob Hawke are looking more and more like the glory days of a political era when we were proud to stand up as Australians and could feel motivated and inspired by his leadership.

We are left, instead, with 'hollow men, stuffed men, headpieces filled with straw,' that prompt apathy and despair, as we quietly realise 'this is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper,' (TS Eliot).

Zoë Wundenberg is a careers writer and coach at impressability.com.au