Brexit Is Going to Test Your True Leadership Skills. How Prepared Are You?

Honestly, does anyone really know what's going on with Brexit? Or what the outcomes are going to be? Talk about uncertainty!

Whatever the deal, whatever the outcomes, change is coming and in times of change and uncertainty is when true leaders step forward to do their part.

This post should resonate with you if you lead a team, a small business or a large organisation employing thousands. What should you be doing to help your 'people' prepare for change and to steady the unease that most of your employees will be feeling?

Read on and let's explore some ideas and then some actions you can take now.

Do Not Wait for the Deal to Act

Waiting to know what the deal will be, only delays action. Some actions and plans have to wait. You need to know what's on the table, what's agreed and how this impacts you. But other actions can be taken and in particular to those that relate to how your employees are feeling about the uncertainty of their jobs, their futures both in the short term and the longer term.

They have a confidence void, filled with uncertainty. Part of your role as a leader is to boost confidence, add clarity and build back confidence, give hope and challenge your preparedness for the inevitable changes that are coming regardless of the Brexit deal whenever or whatever it turns out to be.

Exemplary Leaders do the Following

In the work carried out by James Kouzes and Barry Posner over two decades, they have distilled the qualities and behaviours of exemplary leaders into their leadership model The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®.

These five practices are:

  1. Model the Way.
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision.
  3. Challenge the Process.
  4. Enabling Others to Act.
  5. Encourage the Heart

Kouzes and Posner created their Five Leadership Practices model after researching people's personal experiences of excellent leadership. From their research and analysis they claimed that:

"...good leadership is an understandable and universal process..." 

And that it involved five practices and that within each of these there are two key behaviours which supported these.

Here is an outline of the Kouzes and Posner model: 


Key Behaviours


Model the Way

Set the example by behaving in ways that reflect the shared values.

Achieve small wins that build confidence, commitment and consistent progress.

The leader sets an example. Define the shared behavioural standards and then exemplify them. Kouzes and Posner also believe it is essential to achieve some small wins to build momentum.

When you come to make changes around the consequences of Brexit you must model the way, or walk the talk. looking for small and quick wins will also encourage people to keep moving forward knowing their efforts are working.

Inspiring a Shared Vision

Envision an uplifting, exciting, meaningful future.

Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to their values, interests, hopes and dreams.

Leaders should begin work on their vision before enlisting others to refine it and make it theirs. Emphasis on visualisation and the use of powerful evocative language to capture the vision to inspire others.

It's just as important to win their hearts as it is to appeal to the logic of their minds. Develop your change vision appealing to both.

Challenge the Process

Search out challenging opportunities to change, grow, innovate and improve.

Experiment, take risks and learn from any mistakes.

The leader is an agent for change - questioning, challenging and seeking new ideas. Taking risks, experimenting, learning from and allowing for mistakes. Importantly, encouraging new ideas to flourish.

Brexit will shake things up and as a leader, you're going to have to challenge the old way of doing things. Are these still relevant to the new environment?

Enabling Others to Act

Foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust.

Strengthen people's ability by delegating power, developing their competence and offering visible support.

Building a spirit of trust and collaboration. Encouraging people to share information. Kouzes and Posner believe that leaders must disclose what they believe and care about and, when necessary, show some vulnerability. This also entails delegating power, believing in others, and investing in followers' training and education.

It includes removing barriers and empowering your teams to take action sp the Brexit changes you need to make can be achieved.

Encourage the Heart

Recognise individual contributions to the success of the project.

Celebrate team accomplishments regularly.

Praise and celebration and the recognition of individual and team efforts will be critical to sustaining your change initiatives. Look for ways to celebrate success together in the areas that demonstrate progress is being made and that old ways of operating have been abandoned and the new ways adopted.

In addition to these behaviours and practices, which will be relevant whether there's a change in our membership of the EU or not, as a leader you need to be practising a solid process for change management if you are to initiate any meaningful changes in your organisation.

Without a solid approach to change management your change initiatives, and responses to the shifting political, environmental, social and technological landscapes post-Brexit WILL either fail completely or will not deliver the benefits you wish for.

Leaders need to understand and apply change management strategies that have been proven to work, time and time again.

Reasons Why Brexit Change Management Initiatives Will Fail

Dr John Kotter, international best selling author and change management guru for over 20 decades states that change programs fail for the following reasons.

  • Allowing too much complexity.
  • Allowing too much simplicity.
  • Not understanding the need for a clear vision.
  • Insufficient funds were available.
  • Change of chief executive.
  • Permitting roadblocks against the vision.
  • Too many initiatives already running.
  • Declaring victory too soon and failing to persist.
  • Failing to build a substantial coalition that will support the programme of change.
  • Too complex a business to take on the challenge.
  • Failing to clearly communicate the vision.
  • Not planning for short term results and not realising them.
  • Failing to anchor the changes in the daily life of the organisation.
  • Uninspiring leaders.

So when it comes to your own programs be mindful of these issues and do what it takes to reduce their impact.

Kotter's work is founded on eight steps for managing and accelerating change which every leader and manager should be aware of in my view. Especially those in the UK face with the disruption that Brexit is going to cause us all.

How to Prepare Your Teams for Brexit

We have developed a definitive guide and leadership toolkit for preparing your organisation and your teams for Brexit so you can minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities that ARE headed your way. It's based around the work of Kouzes, Posner and Kotter and is a practical resource to support every business owner, leader or manager that needs to be prepared, make changes for the benefit of all stakeholders. It comes complete with seven essential business analysis tools as well as a full explanation of how to apply Kotter's change management strategy to your business.

For further details click here now and get our pre-Brexit launch offer.



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