The Dearth of Leadership

Leadership lessons from Brexit?

It has taken me a full week to even begin to gather thoughts about the outcome of the European referendum that can be articulated in a business blog.  At the end of a tumultuous week I am, with many others in business, still processing what this means for us and what lies ahead.  The chaos engulfing us right now as I write this, doesn’t feel as if it will resolve itself any time soon and I am concerned as to how this will affect companies like ours.  Business hates uncertainty and in my lifetime I have never experienced such a deep unease as events appeared to spiral out of control this week.

Most worrying of all is the dearth of Leadership at the very top of our political system.

So what can be learned about leadership and leading change from Brexit?

Well here are 5 points I’ve considered:

  1. Never, ever get caught without a plan.  I find it unconscionable that a question was put to us, the electorate, without one.  You would rightly be thrown out of any boardroom in any business for being so utterly, utterly stupid…
  2. Never think about negotiating with your pants down, it’s not a good look … or indeed talk about negotiating after you have insulted the people you are negotiating with.  Our current negotiating position is risible and you would be laughed at in business.
  3. Never advocate change unless you truly believe it will lead to the greater good and never, ever advocate change just because it benefits you personally or politically.
  4. Never ignore the people who are most affected by the change.  If  only 36% of young voters turned out, that’s not THEIR fault, it’s YOUR fault politicians and media people!  I need only point to Scotland’s Independence Referendum: the voting age was lowered, young people took part in televised debate and 80% of them turned out to vote.  So always, always make sure you communicate change, listen to people’s concerns and explain how THEY will be affected by change.
  5. Never allow yourself to join the “Post Truth” movement.  I heard this phrase on a BBC Radio 4 debate about Brexit and it disturbed me.  Apparently: “If you repeat something often enough, even if it isn’t true, people start to believe it”.  Well that might win you the battle but it won’t win you the war and I think as leader you’ll be held accountable for that untruth and, ultimately, held in contempt.  Always speak the truth and never be afraid to ask the difficult questions in your organisation that we so failed to ask our politicians.

I’m hoping these points, which seem to have evaded our political representatives, are blindingly obvious to those of you in leadership and management positions in businesses and organisations large and small.

We all have a huge task now and whichever side of the debate you were on, I know that like me, you will want a new and better country to emerge.  One that understands true leadership rather than the cult of “the leader”, one that thinks before it acts and one that puts truth and decency above all else.



No Guru provide a range of training to develop leaders, managers, people and teams.  John is also available to deliver seminars and talks on themes covered in the blogs.  Get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

Posted by John Drysdale
1st July 2016
John's Blog


New Projects for Summer/Autumn 2018

It has been a really rewarding couple of weeks here at No Guru with new work and wonderful new clients added to our portfolio.

This week we met with the Senior Team at Irwell Valley Homes who have commissioned a project in support of their new brand. (more…)

No Guru now working with University of Huddersfield

Quarter 1 has started off with brilliant news, a newly commissioned programme of delivery for the University of Huddersfield to deliver ‘Strategic Thinking in Higher Education’ as part of an ambitious programme of development for Senior Managers. This leads to a recognised qualification from the Chartered Management Institute.  Head of Staff Development, Daniel Benton explains (more…)

Coaching for Results: Event with Professional Liverpool

We are delighted to be partnering with Professional Liverpool to deliver a FREE seminar on Monday 5th March (3pm to 5pm).

This explores the role of Coaching (and Mentoring) in helping staff deliver business results.  The session will be run by John Drysdale and will be a chance to find out how you can coach more effectively and perhaps consider a role in Coaching and Mentoring through our ILM Programmes.

To reserve your place click here. (more…)


John's Blog

The Immortal Memory: Robert Burns

Address to The Liverpool Athenaeum  2nd February 2018

I was delighted to be asked by club President Sir David Maddison to deliver The Immortal Memory at The Athenaeum Burns evening which I attended with my wife Fiona. This is a huge honour for any Scot and I hope I did it justice.  Burns provides such a rich tapestry I found it a real challenge to be succint and speak in a way that would connect with the audience – I chose to set Burns against the universal themes we recognise today and in the challenges we face in uncertain times.  I hope you enjoy it.   JD


The Immortal Memory – Robert Burns 1759-1796

The Athenaeum 2nd Feb 2018

President, ladies and gentlemen, fellow proprietors and distinguished guests.  I am honoured to propose the Immortal Memory this evening.

To one Robert Burns who lived between 1759 and 1796.


Image Triage – be careful what you post

How to avoid public ‘shaming’

If you’ve ever read Jon Ronson’s book ‘Shamed’, you will know the devastating effect social media can have on people who have posted something stupid on the internet.

Ronson highlights the case of Justine Sacco (a director of corporate communications) who, before boarding an 11-hour flight from Heathrow to Cape Town, Tweeted to her 170 followers what she thought was a series of lighthearted, acerbic comments about her journey. (more…)

Across the great divide

Reworking of an earlier blog of mine, marking the 50th Anniversaries of the deaths of Martin Luther King (4/4/68) and Robert F Kennedy (6/6/68)

Let’s be kinder to each other 

There is a striking memorial in a park in Indianapolis.  It marks the spot where, in April 1968, Robert Kennedy told a waiting crowd that Martin Luther King had been shot and killed, before speaking from the heart and his own personal experience, that violence is never an answer to our grievances.  His calming words quelled the rioting that other cities endured in the days after Dr King’s death and, arguably, saved some lives that night.


The memorial itself is an arresting work of art.  (more…)