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What got you here, wont get you there

Updated: Aug 30, 2018

It’s June 2017 and we are living in volatile times. In the UK, Theresa May, the leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister, held a general election to help strengthen its hand in the Brexit negotiations. However, she failed.

As a Leadership Psychologist, it is interesting to look at what went wrong for Mrs May. She surrounded herself with cronies (allies) from a previous role, who were her inner circle. She was insulated by close advisors, who didn’t allow others to see her, drafted policies without broader consultation, and ran a tyrannical office (The Telegraph, 10 June 2017). By several accounts she chose a way of working which may have worked for her in the past, but did not allow her to step up to dealing with the increased complexity of being Prime Minister. Research is highlighting that we need Leaders who connect with others and use the best and brightest to help them solve problems. Gone are the days when a leader was expected to be the main expert in the room and to know all the answers. The world is too complex and there is simply too much information available for that to happen now. A leader is required to connect and manage the tensions and dilemmas that are faced in our society.

To be well connected leaders need to be psychologically aware and emotionally literate, and confident in dealing with others. They need to have maturity and the ability to reach out to competing groups simultaneously. Only about 2% of the population are there and it takes effort and time to grow into this responsibility. It’s not about gaining more expertise and knowledge. It’s about how you know yourself and your own limitations and how you can work with others towards a greater purpose.

They say it’s lonely at the top, and it is. Having those trusted advisors probably helped Mrs May feel safe, given the difficult role she holds. Now is the time for her to reach out in her network and work more collectively with others, whilst allowing others to help her step back and have alternative perspectives on what she is doing. A leadership coach could really help and if Mrs May wants to see change, then she needs to be the change she wants to see. It’s the one thing she can control and now is the time for her to step into next stage of adult development, for her sake as well as the sake of her party.

Written by Shauna McVeigh, Partner, HCubed. HCubed are a Leadership Consultancy that helps leaders, teams and organisations thrive by using deep psychological practices.

HCubed are part of a collective working on the ConsciousCurve, a process for adult development, which enables growth through key development stages. This is a work in progress (who says development is ever finished). If you want to take part, look here:

Shauna is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist working with leaders and teams through coaching, facilitation and mastery development.


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