So, Where Are We Actually Going?

So, which way is forward?
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What do Trump, May, Macron and Corbyn all have in common? Answer: they are all high profile leaders that have had trouble sustaining a manifesto once elected. You might choose other things that they have in common, but in leadership terms, probably the most damaging has been the u-turns made in their post-election actions. If leaders are supposed to do one thing, it creating direction for the people they lead, and in this they have all clearly failed.

True, all have provided visions of where they want to lead, but none have been consistent in how that vision will be achieved, or even what the vision consists of. People in a country, or an organisation, need to feel that they know where they are going and what they are part of. A widely used positive exemplar of this is the answer a person sweeping the floor at NASA gave when asked what he was doing, who said “I am helping to put a man on the moon”.

As this demonstrates, a useful way of thinking about direction is as a combination of purpose, achievement and inclusion. But of course, consistency is another important component. If a different set of priorities emerges after each strategy away day, people will find it hard to know what to believe in. Some would point to corporate values as a potential source of consistency, but even these seem to change with the leadership, which by definition means they are not corporate.

This demands of leaders that they understand the small number of really important issues for their organisations (or countries) and show some consistency and integrity in creating direction that is meaningful for all.



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