Theresa May has called a snap election. You may have heard that already. It’s a good call – negotiating and implementing Brexit will be easier with a larger majority and a clearer public mandate. And the Tories are pretty much guaranteed more seats since Labour are still a f*cking omnishambles and the Lib Dems nothing more than a lingering yellowy memory.
If May had waited until 2020 the opposition might have had a chance to regroup, boil Corbyn down for glue and gain some real traction amongst the voters. Especially after three long years of seeing how Brexit negotiations play out…
So, conditions are perfect:
1. The economy is currently looking OK
2. The opposition is looking unelectable
3. Brexit’s full impact is yet to be felt.
May has said this is an election about certainty, stability and strong leadership. She’s certainly shown leadership in making a disruptive and controversial call, biting the bullet and diving headlong into a savage six weeks or so of campaigning.
The word ‘leadership’ is everywhere, all the time. Thought leadership, market leadership, team leadership – I bet the intern who makes the tea puts ‘refreshment leadership’ on his LinkedIn. It’s almost always a red flag for bullshit.
Theresa May is looking like a real leader though. I mean, in Malcolm Tucker terms she looks like Dot Cotton licking piss off a thistle, but she’s strong, confident and capable. Like a leader.
Leadership can be hard to define. Sure, it’s about authority, understanding, being able to leverage influence, being able to implement ideas.
But what makes one sales leader a natural born mover of people, and another an absolute no hoper who you’re going to have to bin off asap?
Three Cs – Communication, Confidence and Commitment.
Leaders need to communicate clearly, concisely and consistently, whether with a small sales team or the entire voting-age public of the UK.
Communication means clearly defining the value that they can deliver, clearly defining the value they expect others to deliver, clearly demonstrating how and why they are the person to be leading the delivery of that value.
A great man once said that “power resides where men believe it resides” (Tyrion Lannister I think), and it’s true – confidence is key. The media (and the Labour party…) have told us all that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable so often that now it’s essentially an undisputed fact.
Finally, leadership is about commitment. Commitment to goals and ideals, and commitment to people. Even when that commitment means making difficult, controversial decisions. Theresa May has delivered that commitment.
But then, to stop this becoming a party political broadcast for a bunch of old Etonians who live in castles and don’t care if you die, there’s the question of integrity and transparency.
Killer instinct and the ability to leverage circumstances aside, shouldn’t a leader say what they mean, commit to a course of action and stick with it? I’m not sure that’s a strong point for Theresa May, who has said something like “listen up morons, I’m not going to be calling a snap election” more times than I can count in the last 12 months…
Maybe I’m wrong, and leadership is just about being the snakiest snake in the snake pit after all…
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– Tom @WSL