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Looking at leadership after Brexit

by
1st Jul 2016
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Whether you are a politician, leader of a big business, in charge of a small team or anything in between, there are some fundamentals of leadership that we must all act upon. As leaders we now have some important shared duties and collective responsibilities.

Whichever way you voted in the referendum, the UK is a democracy and a decision has been made by those who voted.

Whether you believe that this was a decision that should have been made by us or taken by those elected to run our country, the decision stands.

As David Cameron said:

“The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected.”

Leadership is about heading into the future in a planned way. Our job as leaders is to create a vision for the future that is better than today; we must give those we lead something compelling to work towards.

It is also our job to inspire those we lead. We must talk positively about the future and energise those around us.

Our job has never been about delivering the task or numbers at any cost. 

The time for ranting about the way the campaign was fought, the vote to leave and all of the things that could go wrong has already past. It is time to move forward.

Perhaps the biggest leadership challenge is for those who voted remain.

They need to move on very quickly, to let go of any anger, resentment or frustration they may harbour and develop a new mindset.

If we focus on the past and dwell on the things that could go wrong in the short-term, post Brexit, then we will fail in our duty to inspire those around us.

It is critical for us to focus on the opportunities that lie ahead rather than the problems and risks because we tend to get more of what we focus on.

If we choose to focus on all the negative things that may happen, the chances are that they will happen in our businesses and to our families.

As we start to focus on building a better future outside the EU, we must also ensure that we are acting with integrity and with honesty.

Leadership is about heading into the future in a planned way. 

Over twenty years’ experience leading teams in the Army and in business has taught me that honesty and integrity are two of the most important leadership qualities. Without these our people will not trust us and if they do not trust us, they certainly will not follow us.

If you voted remain then stay true to your choice

Tell those in the team or businesses you lead that was how you voted. But follow up immediately by stating that you are now totally committed to building the best, brightest and most successful future for everyone in your charge.

Much has been written about David Cameron and his leadership during this referendum, and I will give credit where it is due.

In his speech following the referendum, he stuck firmly by his beliefs that Britain would have been better in the EU.  He followed this up immediately by saying,

“I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think that it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to our next destination.”

I admire his composure, resolve and integrity for that statement and his stated intentions over the coming months.

Similarly, if you voted leave, then you have a duty as a leader to remain true to your decision for the sake of those you lead. In the times of uncertainty that will inevitably lie ahead, don’t deny the choice you made.

Stay publically true to your choice and focus on the part that you can play in building a better future.

Now is the time for leaders to get back to the fundamentals of leadership.

Our job has never been about delivering the task or numbers at any cost. Our job is to deliver the task whilst looking after those we have been given the privilege and the responsibility to lead.

If ever there was a time for leaders to step up and lead then this is it.

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