In the UK fresh elections have been called by surprise. One intriguing aspect – the many answers out there already, 3 hours after such a massive decision. I wonder: Before throwing answers out, are we even aware of the questions and challenges at this stage?
From the many possible leadership questions, I focus on shaping respect & disrespect, then on clarity, misalignment & healing.
Respect and disrespect
Many will argue calling election is a breach of trust. What do messages and promises actually mean today? Where is the value? When it has only been four weeks or so since the government consistently ruled out early election. Politicians, bankers, managers are often rated low for us trusting them, etc.
Nevertheless, I have heard that too often.
Interestingly you can turn it around and ask if an early election means that the government trusts the people, the electorate?
Or you can ask how we actually behave and what we contribute so that influential people consider they can breach our trust regularly?
However, what about respect? While for strategic leadership this decision makes complete sense, at the interpersonal level of leadership it may signal a lack of regard and respect towards the citizens who can be told or untold everything at discretion. And what kind of behaviour will this reinforce in other people in society who are observing this?
Shared clarity, misalignment and healing rifts
However, one function of people at the helm of organisations or societies is to make decisions for us. That is, decisions we actually often do not wish to make ourselves. A challenge of every person with a big remit is then how to create alignment and clarity amongst and beyond its own audiences and constituencies.
What is then the lasting impact of this current global political habit: Announcing actions for the long-term, but then change the sell-by date in weeks? Will this cause more rifts and accelerate the need for healing inside and between parts of divided societies?
“The country is coming together, but Westminster is not,” said Theresa May on 18 April 2017. Who knows if this is the case or not? Is this a first step towards shared clarity, or perhaps another step to more misalignment and divisions?
One element of engaging leadership that can be decisive for this will be the narratives and the language that the influential people will put out to their audience in the next 8 weeks and after the elections. The jury is out.
If on the other side leadership is actually everyone’s job, then you can ask yourself what role and behaviour will you show in this situation?
Like in your organisation, how could you engage and create the leadership debates and engagement that help shape long-term clarity and alignment?
Happy engaging – stay tuned.