15 March 2019.

The UK’s Brexit debacle may be excruciating to watch but it is providing us with some invaluable lessons in leadership.

So many lessons, in fact, that it is difficult to know where to begin. So I suggest we start with reminding ourselves of what a good leader actually looks like …

A good leader:

  • Brings clarity to an organisation.
  • Has a clear strategy that is aspirational and yet achievable; built upon a clear vision of what they are seeking to achieve – and why.
  • Sets outcomes that are clear and substantial, not superficial vagaries, and works with their people to build a transparent plan to implement the outcomes.
  • Engages with their people to unearth and understand the implications and consequences of the strategy / change – and how best to overcome them.
  • Understands that 21st Century leadership is a team game; not an individual sport. They create a cohesive leadership team comprised of diverse leaders whose weaknesses are supported by the strengths of their fellow team members.
  • Is never complacent. They continually ask themselves “What could possibly go wrong?”
  • Listens. Poor leaders don’t listen to understand; they listen to reply. Good leaders know that effective communication is two-way.
  • Deals in truths. They don’t bend facts to support their opinions. Their opinions are formed through insight gained through the analysis of facts.
  • Understands that emotion trumps logic every time. People only change if they want to. A leader’s job is to help people to want to change, which means addressing their concerns and appealing to their emotions – in a manner that is genuine.
  • Is trusted. Their people believe that they genuinely care – and put the best interests of the organisation, its people and its customers ahead of their own self-interest.
  • Inspires and enables people to be their best.
  • Creates more leaders, not more followers.
  • Lives the organisation’s values.
  • Is authentic.

While even the best leaders will struggle to live up to all of these ideals all of the time, the three prominent Brexit leaders – Cameron, May and Corbyn – collectively fail almost every single one of them …

(Details of precisely how they fail these tests are provided in the full essay – click here to download.)

Time for change. It is time for new leaders to step forward. Leaders who aren’t complacent. Leaders who aren’t stuck in a bygone age. Leaders who can collaborate and not see it as a sign of weakness. Leaders who people can trust.

But whichever leaders do emerge to lead the UK through the incredibly challenging times ahead, I implore them to keep the list above within their line of sight at all times.

To be the best leaders they can possibly be.


Campbell Macpherson

15 March 2019

Click here to download the full essay.