PART 3 – Are we moving away from instead of towards politics?

(Lessons for Leadership Development!)

Much of the global political change over the last few years has seen a shift from people following something or someone or, indeed, a particular party, to voting for “anybody or anything but …!”.

This may sound like a small change. After all it is not a new concept. People felt strongly against Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair towards the end of their prime ministerships. However, the difference we are seeing today is broader than just a dislike of one individual or their policies.

And we’re feeling a seismic shift across the world. Trump being voted into power due to a mistrust of Hilary Clinton, even though many Americans didn’t like Trump or want him as their president. One person said of the American elections, “I am being asked to choose between a crook and a clown, so the clown wins”.

Just look at what’s happened recently:

  • The surprise Brexit vote, as mentioned in my previous blogs.
  • The surge in support for Jeremy Corbyn, despite many MPs in his own party regarding him as unelectable.
  • The landslide vote for Emmanuel Macron in France where his popularity seems to be based on him not having political experience and not being connected to the establishment.

Everywhere you look, people power seems to be saying “We don’t like what we have got. Let’s vote for something different”.

What’s caused this is a matter for longer debate. Mistrust in our governments through greater transparency of their failings is certainly part of it. The role of social media has been huge. Every slip, stumble and misdemeanour is now transmitted around the world in seconds rather than days.

However, regardless of the cause, I am interested in the implications for leadership from all of this. Centuries of evolution has shown that humans need strong leaders to follow, to give them security and peace of mind. The economies that we have created are built to function around consumer confidence and this confidence has been shown to be highest with strong leadership at the very top, regardless of political persuasion. We don’t know what will happen over time. The leaders of the free world in positions of influence simply because they are ‘nice people’, different, quirky or because ‘we don’t like the alternative’?

In organisations, leaders need to wake up to these changes in global leadership and be aware of the trend towards people power. Poor leadership style won’t be tolerated for long these days before complaints are made, grievances aired or, in extreme circumstances, withdrawal of effort or sabotage.

How can you ensure you effectively lead your teams within this changing world?

My top tips are:

  1. Be curious about what your people are feeling/saying. Suspend judgement and you will find out valuable information to inform your decisions.
  2. Listen more than you speak. An old adage but one that politicians have forgotten. Do so as a leader at your peril!
  3. Tell the ‘what’ and involve people in the ‘how’. People want direction but don’t want to be micro-managed in doing their jobs.
  4. Set your personal vision from what really matters to you. People will follow someone who is genuine even when they disagree with some decisions.
  5. Finally, never allow your ego to let you think you are the finished article. Ask the people who work for you for feedback. Always know how you would like to improve your leadership, tell others what you are working on this month/quarter in terms of your personal development, seek feedback as you practice to embed new habits.

If you want to be the best leader you can be, work on the leadership fundamentals first – the rest are just tools in the toolkit.

If you fancy a coffee and a chat on how to focus your leaders on the fundamentals, contact me on 07710 003029 or email David.tomkinson@andpartnership.com. I’m buying.

Missed reading Part 1 and Part 2. Click on the links to catch up.