Why Brexit needs leadership based on kindness and compassion not soundbites and rhetoric

This morning, I am in a hotel room in Manchester watching commentators discuss the latest humiliation of UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, after every option of her Brexit plan was rejected by MPs.

As you will know, the news from last night is that she told her party she would step down if her Brexit deal is passed which seems like a desperate plea for support so that she can finish the job she took on. When this all started to blow up, I had some sympathy with May because it seemed like she didn’t stand a chance from the beginning, maybe because MPs from across the UK are afraid of what a British exit from the EU will actually mean for the country.

The longer things have gone on, the more embarrassed I feel as I watch the pantomime that our parliament has become and with recent events in New Zealand, it’s hard not to wonder where we might be if we had a different kind of leader at the helm.

It is clear that Brexit is divisive – it divided families and friends overnight with passionate views on both sides, often under one roof – so it needed leadership that could recognise all opinions and bring people back together, moving towards a shared vision for the future.

After the referendum in 2016, it seemed to me that what was needed was a cabinet of the best people from across all parties. Ok, this isn’t common but a coalition Government was in place under Churchill’s leadership during the second World War and working together now for the good of the country is just as important now as we negotiate our way out of the European Union as it was in wartime.

Evidently, May doesn’t share that view (or doesn’t have the skills) and she has missed the opportunity to unify, instead, widening the divide and creating even more conflict. The greater the challenge, the more determined she seems to become.  She has stuck to her guns but she clearly hasn’t inspired confidence and is now paying the price.

In a stark contrast, we have just seen New Zealand face their own man-made crisis in the Christchurch terror attack, with a leader who has reacted entirely differently; not with soundbites and rhetoric but with kindness and compassion. She has brought people together across New Zealand and been clear that she will take action to protect people and make sure this tragedy doesn’t happen again.

We have seen Jacinda Ardern with her people, sharing their grief, showing support and role modelling behaviours. She has shown people how they can join together in solidarity. She hasn’t just said it; she has done it. She has led a nation in mourning, not by standing out but by blending in and showing that she is part of the community too. She has shown emotion, empathy and humanity, standing out to the world as a modern leader who many would do well to learn from.

So how could May have followed this example to bring together a not so United Kingdom? Maybe she could have listened harder and shown some care for those who have found themselves in conflict instead of ploughing on without support. She perhaps could have tapped into those heightened emotions and spoken to the people instead of robotically trotting out tory lines that sound too cold for comfort. And she certainly could have found some humanity to show she understands the anguish that is out there on all sides instead of ignoring those dissenters and carrying on regardless.

Britain needs to be united behind a shared vision for the future and I hope that the next leader can recognise this and deliver success.
What do you think of leadership in relation to Brexit? Do you agree that a different style might have yielded better results? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay

Why diversity is more than demographics

When I first became a Manager, I had one member of staff in my team.  She was my antithesis.  Completely the opposite of me.  I didn’t understand her way of working or why it was so difficult and I found it very frustrating.  She would focus on the minute details, take her time over things and make sure everything was exactly right.  In contrast, I support the Facebook mantra of ‘done is better than perfect’.  That doesn’t mean a lack of standards but I’m not looking for the best piece of work ever but sometimes if you spend too long making it perfect, you end up missing the moment.

Not long after we had begun working together, I went on a training course about emotional intelligence and it was there that I had a light bulb moment.  We did an activity about working styles and in doing this, I realised that my colleague was a ‘be perfect’ whereas I’m a ‘hurry up’.  As soon as I realised that, my approach changed and we had a much more successful working relationship from there on in.  By the time she left the organisation, I had learnt that the opposite skills that she brought to the team were exactly what I needed and once I was back to working with someone similar to myself, I felt a loss of skills that had been extremely valuable.

Today, I deliberately look for difference when hiring people.  It might be tempting to recruit in my own image and it can be easier to work with others who think the same way that you do and take the same approach but I now understand the true value of diversity and aim to construct a team where each individual brings something different and can shine in their own right.  My current team is a fantastic example of this – individually unique and perfect together.  They each bring something to the party which makes for endless good times!

Often when we talk about diversity we think about demographics – sex, race, age, ability – and this is extremely important but I do think it’s more than that.  In my view, we need to think about difference more broadly and recognise the value of bringing people, views and skills together.  The reason diversity is said to be good for business is that it brings a variety of viewpoints and a wider range of experience which improves decision making and problem solving .  An article published in The Guardian claims that ‘unconscious bias and a tendency to hire in their own image can lead managers to bring in the wrong candidate for their team ’ and suggests that ‘a lack of diversity is one of the biggest issues threatening the advertising industry today, challenging the credibility of the industry and preventing businesses from being run as effectively as they could be’.   The advice in this article is to ‘consider each hire based on the value they can add to the team, rather than simply in a specific role. It is not always about hiring the best person for the role, rather the best person for the team as a whole’.

Keep an eye on the skills in the team and consider what’s missing.  Then when you recruit in the future you can look for someone who will add value to the team rather than bringing what you already have.

Have you got your own stories about the benefits of having a diverse team?  Can you relate to the experiences above or do you have your own which challenge this view?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

If you want to understand the roles in your team or find out if you have unconscious bias, try these tools:

 

www.3minuteleadership.org 

 

Photo: Pixabay.com

 

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