Thursday, 30 June 2016

Brexit and Leadership Vacuum


There's a great New Yorker cartoon by Mischa Richter that shows a large flock of sheep looking rather disgruntled facing a farm dog. The lead sheep says to the dog, "Speaking frankly, a number of us are worried about a serious leadership vacuum."

Serious leadership vacuum?  That's an understatement of what we're facing now. In my last blog I mentioned a paucity of leadership at the very time we, as a nation, need it most.

Instead, we have a bunch of Conservatives jockeying to position themselves as the next party leader and another bunch of Labour MPs trying to oust their current leader.

Great; more diversionary tactics to keep the focus off the power gap that desperately needs to be filled right now. This is when we should be clamouring for our so called leaders to stop pointing fingers at each other and tell us what they are going to do.

The EU Referendum result is a hot potato no one wants to touch so it’s being tossed around and every time it’s tossed to someone new it’s accompanied by accusations, blame and grand denunciations.

Great leaders don’t need to blame, finger point, indulge in recriminations. Great leaders need to ‘grasp the nettle’ as the cliché goes, get stung and get things done, starting with having a plan (see previous blog).

Leadership vacuums occur all the time: we just happen to be witnessing this one on a global scale and yet very close to home at the same time. With just over half the country jubilant and just under half the country in despair, calm, clear voices need to rise above the clamour.

Voices that have a plan.

Notice how much I keep banging on about a plan? I believe in vision and I believe in having impossible dreams. I also believe that vision and dreams cannot happen without a concrete strategy and that’s what we look to our leaders to provide.

Although I am a firm believer in democracy, we have a Parliamentary system in place so that we can be led by people who should have far greater understanding of the issues and are able to represent our best interests. The leadership vacuum we are all suffering with is not being done in our best interest but in the self-interest of those who are all squabbling.

We are in the midst of uncertainty; uncertainty feeds fear and anxiety and this is what happens when we are up to our necks in uncertainty:

We guess what might be going on and the longer we don’t know what’s going on, we then make things up and act as though what we made up is true.

We generally imagine scenarios far worse than reality but without clear leadership it feels like it could become as bad as we imagine.

We gossip and fire up the rumour mill.

We look for someone or something to blame.

We become demotivated and unproductive.

This is true whether it’s our country grappling with ‘pass the parcel’, our company having merger talks behind closed doors, our department facing restructuring or our managers mooting budget cuts.

Uncertainty in any guise needs effective and bold leadership.

I don’t know if there’s going to be good news for our nation any day soon with somebody (anybody?) emerging to guide us through the current chaos.

There is, however, very good news for organisations facing uncertainty. Impact Factory runs a Leadership Open Course every month and we run a lot of tailored Leadership courses as well, and we can say that at least on the corporate level there are wonderful, creative, forward-thinking leaders developing their skills and facing their challenges with enthusiasm, realism and a true burning desire to make things better.

People our banana bunches in Westminster could learn from.

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director and Founding Partner at Impact Factory.

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