Blogs

Search

How Leadership 101 could win the next election for the Lib Dems




It is the party conference season and the political weather is dominated by fog. Political fog swirls as both main parties offer different solutions but neither explain precisely how they will execute them. Opaque is the new clarity.


Cynics might suggest they do not know. A kinder interpretation is that politics in the UK has divorced itself from the meaning of the word leadership and, instead, aligned itself with the word personality, which is a different matter altogether.


Leadership is about helping people to perform at their very best, even to their surprise. Personality is about individual qualities. The latter is about being, the former is about doing.

And so Mrs May and Mr Corbyn, described as the leaders of their respective parties, have advanced their positions on the key issue of the day: Brexit


But neither has set out how they are going to create an environment in which their ministers will be able to deliver on the solutions they espouse.


This should worry us all, irrespective of which side you support. What are you going to say in five years time if the people you voted for fail to deliver on what they promised?


That is politics, you might reasonably respond. Whoever, you might add, expects a politician to deliver what they said they would?


In normal times this cynicism might be justified but we are not in normal times.


Not in my lifetime – I’m 57 – have I witnessed a political event so profound as Brexit. I was too young for the Cuban missile crisis, the next nearest in my view. You may argue that there were other more profound events but you cannot argue that Brexit is not a game changer.


For example as I write, Monarch Airlines has gone into administration partly because of the brutal competition in the short haul market but also because of the fall of the sterling. The latter was a direct consequence of the Brexit vote.


According to the Office for National Statistics the UK economy is now the worst performing economy in the G7. On the eve of the referendum it was the fastest growing.


Moreover, the polarisation in UK society has become much more pronounced since the vote. Of this fact there seems to be no disagreement.


But even if you feel that a certain amount of pain is inevitable and you are still convinced that Brexit is the right thing to do, surely you must care that the policies you support are executed properly?


Are you sure that this will happen? Just because you believe the Leavers, whether hard or soft, are right does not mean that you can be confident that they are capable of implementing those policies.


This presents an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats because they are neither burdened with the cult of personality nor the weight of excessive ideology. But they are a force in UK politics, no matter how weak.


My advice therefore to Sir Vince Cable is the same advice I give to all CEOs who are in a potential turnaround situation and that is to focus on Leadership 101.


I acknowledge that politics is not a business and Sir Vince is not a CEO, but the principles of Leadership 101 apply in all organisations and they are ignored at peril. Sir Vince should take three turnaround steps:


Step 1: Announce that he will not be the next PM but that he is launching a nationwide search for the most talented team of new Lib Dem MPs, one of whose number will be the Liberal Democrat Prime Minister in 2022. Sir Vince will act as interim caretaker.


Step 2: The new leader of the Liberal Democrats will focus on leading its Members of Parliament in parliament and not on attempting to lead anything or anyone outside of the House of Commons.


Step 3: The new leader will create an environment in which new and as yet unknown MPs will be supported to lead public service departments, excellently, and will communicate to the electorate how, precisely, that will be achieved.


That’s it. If Sir Vince carries out those steps his party will win, unless of course someone in the other two parties wakes up to the fact that they are ignoring Leadership 101 and beats him to it.

0 views

© 2017 CIARAN FENTON LIMITED