The Dearth of Leadership

Great Britain withdrawal from European union brexit concept

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


Liverpool based training company, No Guru is ‘leading in learning’ as the ILM city region hub

North West employers now have access to professional development qualifications for management, team leaders and supervisory staff as Cotton Exchange based training company, No Guru becomes the Liverpool City Region hub for ILM accreditation.


University Contract extended for 2 Years

Leeds Beckett University relationship extended

We are delighted to announce our current contract to provide Staff Training and Team Building to Leeds Beckett University has been extended a further 2 years.

During the next academic year we will be running new programmes around:

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Leading Change
  • Leading & Empowering People
  • Working to Strengths
  • Designing and Delivering Presentations

Additionally we will continue to work with Teams to deliver on the University Strategic Framework as well as completing our first ILM Level 5 Coaching & Mentoring programme for internal ‘Coaching Champions’.

We would like to thank People Development and everyone at Leeds Beckett for making it a great place to work.


NEW: Even more Online Courses

We’re very pleased to announce new additions to our Online Suite of Training Courses.  We have just added:

  • Anti Harassment and Bullying
  • Effective Delegation
  • Disciplinary Procedures
  • Negotiation

Our course of the week this week is Safeguarding Children.  (more…)


John's Blog

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

Let’s be kinder to each other in 2017

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…)

Thinking In A World That Doesn’t Think

Arsene Wenger and that letter

A recent item appeared on LinkedIn that made me curious.  You may have seen it.

It purports to show a resignation letter written by a disillusioned employee of Arsenal Football Club, citing his reason for leaving: (more…)