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Leadership considerations in the wake of a new United Kingdom

View profile for Molly Mackay
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In the space of one week, the United Kingdom:

  • Said goodbye to Boris Johnson, the Queen’s fourteenth Prime Minister
  • Saw the Queen’s last public appearance being her meeting with Liz Truss, the newly appointed Leader of the Conservative Party
  • Bid a final farewell to Her Majesty the Queen, and
  • Introduced a new King

The impact of these significant power shift events, the space between them a mere 48 hours, signalled a historic change in national identity as well as the political landscape. The juxtaposition between losing a monarch that, for most, is the only they have ever known, with the seemingly frequently changing post of Prime Minister (Liz Truss is the fourth in the last 12 years), both already indicate noticeable change. 

It is these changes that have inspired this month’s article on leadership. Much speculation has already been made as to the kind of monarch we can expect from King Charles III, most notably as to whether he will remain politically neutral, as required, on important topics such as environmental issues. Similarly, the new Prime Minister faces huge political and economic pressure with the cost of living crisis set to take a stronger hold over the coming months as we move into winter. 

Strong leadership will therefore be of critical importance and the subject of much debate. Here, we consider this topic from the standpoint of an employer and what leadership qualities may be necessary, as well as how to cope with leadership changes. 

Leadership qualities

Dependent upon a range of factors, the qualities of those in positions of management or leadership will vary. However, there are some attributes that are (or should be) universally valued, to lead and inspire teams and encourage productivity through collaboration, to enable a business to reach its strategic aims. 

These include: 

  1. Respect – A good leader should have respect for their team whilst earning their respect in return. George Foreman once said that ‘without appreciation and respect for other people, true leadership becomes ineffective, if not impossible’. Such words offer positive guidance for leaders, which promotes key foundations for a successful workplace. 
  2. Adaptability – Exemplified by the events of the last few years, now more than ever, employers and employees are expected to be adaptable. The rise in working from home, for example, has created a new working culture and a transition to a new image of an efficient worker. This means that an employer who is able to recognise the legitimate needs of their employees to be adaptable, is more likely in turn to create a productive work environment. 
  3. Positivity and Realism – Fairness and deserved praise are conducive to a positive workforce but this is most successful when coupled with realism. When going through times of challenge, positivity is important to keep morale high however, caution should be adopted when employees are given unrealistic expectations of the future ahead. 

Leadership changes 

As exemplified by the changes of both Prime Minister and monarch, instinct is to question what a new leader will bring to the position, especially when people have grown used to a certain style. 

Those new to a leadership position should prioritise getting to know their new team and understanding their roles (if they don’t already), as well as establishing expectations and norms moving forward. Research has indicated that visibility as a manager has a significant impact on success, with the foundations of a strong relationship being established from the start. 

‘Lead from the front’

This is perhaps the key to leadership, whether that be for King Charles, Liz Truss or an employer looking to inspire staff and managers alike. Visibility in the work place will help with the engagement of the team and set the leader up for success. 

Whether we see the UK’s new leaders putting these tips into place remains to be seen: it will certainly be an interesting rest of the year.