In the most important election of our lifetime, who will be first past the post?

As we are approaching election day in the UK, I am one of many people still undecided about who to vote for.  My previously staunch Labour family are seriously considering changing their colours and people up and down the country are wondering who best to lead what have the potential to be disastrous Brexit negotiations.

It’s going to be a tough job so you have to wonder who would want it!

In terms of contenders, it’s really a two horse race thanks to our first past the post-election system which keeps the other parties in their place.  Whilst I would like things to be more fair, the fact is that many voters are thinking Corbyn or May and if you’re not sure, then it’s a pretty tough choice.

Corbyn carried the can in many ways for the remain campaign defeat as he was accused of failing to provide a strong voice for those who wanted the UK to stay in the European Union.  Media articles suggested that he actually wanted to leave himself and who doesn’t accept that the union needs reform but the British people decided to go for broke so if he is elected, he’ll have to navigate some tricky negotiations to try and get a decent deal for Britain.

Theresa May’s position was that we are better ‘in’ but when challenged on her ability to lead the nation towards independence given her personal views, she answered “we gave people the choice and the British people decided to leave. Now we have to deliver on that choice and respect the will of the people”.  The role of Prime Minister now is to deliver what people want.

This chimes with a previous blog post which considered the role of elected representatives and whether once elected they should do what they think is best or what the electorate want.  Maybe it is better that these negotiations are led by someone who can deliver the will of the 52% leave voters but protect the concerns of the 48% who voted to remain.

It’s a difficult choice in this election and I have a feeling that the Prime Minister will get the mandate that she is looking for from the British people although if the polls are anything to go by, not with the majority she hoped for.

So why does she seem like such a strong candidate?  Apart from the systemic issue previously highlighted, Corbyn divides his own party so how can he unite a nation at a particularly turbulent time?

My husband came home from work recently and asked me ‘why don’t people like Corbyn?’.  For me, it’s because he doesn’t look ready to do the job and whilst I know it shouldn’t be about that, I wouldn’t hire someone who turns up for a job interview not looking smart so I’m not keen to have a Prime Minister who can’t dress for the occasion.  What would he consider appropriate for an important diplomatic meeting?  I can’t be certain and that concerns me.

Watching interviews with Andrew Marr and Jeremy Paxman, I was pleased to see he did dig a suit out of the wardrobe.  He also seemed considered in his responses and I found that he had good points to make and I wanted to listen to him.  He might have some positions which are controversial but I like his policies on the living wage, zero hours contracts and public services and he is clearly a socialist to the core.

May on the other hand was ‘on message’ with the Conservative vision for the future which she says will be secure and have a strong economy.  Will the public services be safe? Who knows. Her focus, she says, is on getting a good deal in the Brexit negotiations and strengthening the economy overall.

She did have a very clear call to action for all those people able to have their say in this election and that was for everyone to go out and vote regardless of their colours.  As the Prime Minister herself said “this is the most important election of our lifetime” so make sure you turn out on Thursday and make your voice heard.

 

3minuteleadership.org

How elected representatives can make good decisions and keep everyone happy

In February this year, Wales Online reported that there were calls for Bridgend MP, Madeleine Moon, to resign after she went against the electorate’s wishes and voted against the triggering of article 50 in a constituency that voted to leave the European Union.

It chimed with something I’ve been thinking about recently around the responsibility and accountability of those elected to a role.

As a Trustee of a membership organisation, I was elected to the Board by a body of representative members.  According to the ‘governance jigsaw’ published by the Charity Commission, the main duties of a Trustee include acting in the charity’s best interests, ensuring the charity is carrying out its purposes for public benefit and managing resources responsibly.  It seemed that some of my colleagues found themselves conflicted in fulfilling these duties as they struggled to make decisions that they thought might go against what they considered to be the wishes of the organisation’s members.

This conflict was particularly evident when we tried to take forward recommendations arising from a review of governance procedures.  It was as controversial and divisive as the Brexit vote as we sought to take forward reforms that had been developed by a panel of volunteers through consultation with the membership. 

The aim of the governance review was to modernise and encourage more members to become involved in the decision making process.  Changes proposed were designed to make it easier for committees to operate, streamlining their structure and allowing flexibility of roles.  Included in this, was an overhaul of committee roles in an attempt to make them more attractive for the next generation.  It was also hoped that the raft of changes put forward would ensure greater consistency across the organisation in how volunteer committees deliver the organisation’s charitable objectives. 

When I saw a television interview recently with the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, I noticed that when he was asked about his own decision making process, he said ‘in the end, all you can do is be true to your own values’.

Arguably, this is what Madeleine Moon was doing.  In her response to her critics, she said ‘fears over employment, workers right and trade deals were at the forefront of her mind’ and that she ‘tore herself apart’ coming to that decision.      

Moon appears to have taken the view that her role is to protect the long term interests of her constituency rather than represent their views. 

In my opinion, the electorate were given the chance to indicate what they wanted to happen in terms of our relationship with the EU.  As such, Moon should have voted to trigger article 50 because her constituency was clear in its desire.  Where her discretion comes in is in providing the necessary scrutiny to ensure proposals will deliver the best deal possible for her constituents.

In making a decision as a Trustee, the same judgement call needs to be made to ensure the members are represented and protected whilst you do your job as a leader of the organisation, setting the direction and supporting the charity to deliver its mission in the best possible way whilst securing the future of the organisation. 

Issues occur when members are against a decision that you as a Trustee believes is the best thing for the charity.  In this instance, Trustee’s must demonstrate their leadership skills and look to persuade members, bringing them along on the journey.

 

Have thoughts on this article? Been in a similar situation yourself? Share your views in the comments below.

3minuteleadership.org

Halloween, fancy dress and the ‘Trumpkin’

As Halloween approaches, many of us will be planning for parties and wondering what costume to wear. The festival marks the religious feast of ‘all hallows’ eve’ which is more commonly known in Christian communities as ‘all souls day’. It’s a day to remember the dead which is why it is linked to ghosts, ghouls and all things spooky.

It’s not clear whether this day has arisen from harvest festivals and pagan roots or if it was Christian all along. Celtic customs and beliefs are said to have had an influence – for example, the Welsh used to hold a festival called ‘calan gaeaf’ which was held on the 31st October to celebrate the beginning of winter. However it came about, this is typically the time of year that we enjoy activities such as pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, trick or treating and costume parties.

You might wonder what Halloween has to do with leadership but there a number of things that we can learn from this celebration of the supernatural.

1. Be yourself – Halloween is about dressing up in a clever disguise. This is great for a night of fun but if you are constantly pretending to be someone else as a leader, this will be noticed by others and impact your credibility, hindering your ability to develop trust in relationships. It takes a lot of energy to pretend so the mask could slip, revealing you as a fake. The best thing you can do as a leader is be yourself – even if you are a little ghoulish! People will respect you more for letting your imperfections show.

2. Be vulnerable – Dressing up in a silly outfit and leaving the house takes confidence. Leaders should have the confidence to be vulnerable. This is the very heart of authenticity as it takes confidence to reveal a part of you that might usually prefer to keep to yourself. Your team will respond well to you as an individual if you are able to reveal a fun centre and allow yourself to dress up in a Halloween costume.

3. Be engaging – an engaged team works harder because they want to achieve and succeed. The great thing about Halloween is that many people do engage and participate. If you can bring in a little Halloween magic into the workplace, you can develop a high performing team.

4. Be fun! – I’ve written about this before and I believe in it fully. Having fun for me is a central part of leadership. I want my team to enjoy their work which means finding the fun in the job that must be done (remember Mary Poppins?). If people enjoy what they do, they will do more of it and I certainly want my team to do as much as they possibly can! Fun is a great morale booster so celebrate every festival and allow them to loosen up from time to time.

A life size ‘Trumpkin’

 

Finally, another Halloween trend taking the U.S. by storm is the creation of a ‘Trumpkin’. In the run up to the election, pumpkins everywhere are being carved in to replicas of the man himself. We also saw a few carved Clintons during our recent tour of Massachusetts. Perhaps this is a trend we can adopt here in the UK with imitations of Theresa May, Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn. If you do decide to recreate your favourite leader in a pumpkin fashion, be sure to share with me on Twitter @ChristineB_OS

You may also be interested to read my post Leadership is… which considers the importance of fun in leading others.

3minuteleadership.com

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