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Brexit, Boardrooms and Beliefs

How your attitude to the events in June could reveal a great deal about the future of your business and your leadership style.

The last two weeks have probably been the most momentous and, in some ways exciting and uncertain in most of our lifetimes. Kipling’s quote ‘IF you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs’ has never been more apt. This is as true in the field of political leadership as it is on the football pitch or the tennis court.

Meetings with our coaching clients across a range of businesses and sectors over the last few days have had several key themes running through them. These range from panic, as orders or activity reduces by as much as 50%, through to bewilderment and excitement at the opportunities that ‘may’ emerge.

Whilst I have my own personal views on the EU referendum result, as a coach, I have really stood in a place of possibility. The result is the result. We now as a country have to work out how we can make the most of it.

Make no mistake MANY companies will emerge from this situation far better off than would have been possible without it. It is also likely that many companies will see the opposite happen. What separates them?

Emotions both in the business community and elsewhere (just look at social media) have been running high. Judgment, retribution and blame have, worryingly, emerged as early ‘front runners’ in people’s reactions.

So what can coaching offer to this debate and how might it help?

The referendum provided a mirror which was held up to the whole country and, dependent upon your point of view, it reflected an ugly picture of division, protest, disconnection or, according to some, the sunny uplands of opportunity.

Coaching is very similar in that it provides an opportunity to reflect, to look in on yourself as a leader and manager, your business and your people. Whatever one thinks of the referendum result it has certainly brought to the fore our divided society with opinions that were previously either ignored or papered over.

How many executives have really examined the views and wishes of their stakeholders? What possibilities lie dormant within your own team or wider business? What would happen if you were able to expose these before they came to the vote? How could you create a culture that engages your people in delivering something AMAZING?

Above all, how can you, as an executive, take the current situation, where the UK has changed forever, and utilise it and the thoughts and ideas of your people to create something bigger, better and brighter, perhaps despite your current state of uncertainty?

Yes, a huge cauldron of challenges has bubbled up in the space of one momentous day. What can many of us do on a national or international stage? Maybe little. But the danger is that we become passive and miss the opportunity to shape what is in our control.

Don’t be blinded to the opportunities that this situation is creating now for you and your team.

I have already worked with a number of executives who are seizing the opportunity for a new conversation. Even those where orders have gone down by 50% in ten days are standing in a place of possibility having learnt that there is no point moaning, blaming or wishing for the past.

Our coaching has already opened up new dialogues around currency fluctuations, resultant cost hikes, plummeting share prices, job insecurity and complete strategic changes in direction.

On a personal level the referendum also reflects our own need for change – we all, in big or small ways, get to a point in our life where we desire a change. This could be of job or career, house, country, partner or a complete way of life – isn’t this what 52% of people were looking for? Whether they get it is another matter. What will matter is that we step forward into some discomfort, a place we all now find ourselves in, take responsibility and turn this into a positive.

Clients, both corporate and personal, frequently arrive at our door when the pain of confronting a tough challenge is no longer worse than the pain of maintaining the status quo in their life or their business. Unsurprisingly, this is where coaching can be incredibly powerful in helping change lives and organisations.


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About the Author:

Alan Denton is MD of executive coaching and leadership development company The Results Centre.  Alan regularly coaches CEOs and senior executives across a range of areas including financial services, pharmaceutical, the legal sector and many others following his years working as a senior manager within the retail and the automotive industry.