Step 1 Google “leadership”
Leadership is about helping other people to shine. Leaders make a lasting impact through others.
A fruitful read on this topic is HBRs 10 Must Reads On Leadership: Goleman, Drucker, Kotter, Heifetz & Laurie, Goffee & Jones, Bennis & Thomas, Collins (Jim), Rooke & Torbert, George/Sims/McLean/Mayer and Ancona/Malone/Orlikowski/Senge.
They can’t all be wrong.
Mr Johnson may also benefit from reading or re-reading Cabinet’s Finest Hour: The Hidden Agenda of May 1940 by David Owen.
Whether you read the leadership books or not, remember that if you behave as “Head Of” you will have a different outcome than if you behave as a leader.
Step 2 Know, well, the people you lead
Each is unique. So each has different needs in order to thrive. Know their needs and their personal purpose. Your leadership will thrive too.
The assumption that bosses have rights and no obligations towards the unique characters they lead is one which lands many leaders in trouble, often to their own surprise.
Step 3 Publish your personal purpose
Tell everyone why you want to lead them. Be clear and honest about your personal motivation. Otherwise, you won’t gain their trust.
And without trust, you can forget about receiving discretionary effort.
Without discretionary effort, your leadership is doomed.
Step 4 Agree on a shared team purpose
Don’t rush this.
Later, when team conflicts arise, as they will, you will resolve these faster if the process for agreeing your team purpose is rigorous and genuinely shared by all without exception and without pressure.
Step 5 Agree on a shared strategy
Spend as much time on strategy as you do on purpose. It’s difficult for people to whinge later if they coauthored the strategy.
Don’t confuse a strategy with a plan. A strategy is about how, in headline terms, you achieve your shared purpose. A plan is about how you implement your strategy.
Step 6 Agree on conduct principles
Conduct is the collective behaviour of you and your team over time in the implementation of your shared strategy to achieve your shared purpose.
The highest risk you face is conduct risk. Mitigate it by agreeing on a tough code of behaviour from the “get-go”. Legislate for its breach.
Conduct Risk should be No 1 on your Risk Register. Make sure your GC owns the Register. If the GC doesn’t understand business risk, teach them. Don’t separate business risk from legal risk. They’re interdependent.
Step 7 Track and RAG your relationships
List your key relationships. RAG these regularly against your shared team purpose. You are likely to have at least one Red and several Amber relationship events in the early weeks of your First Hundred Days.
The manner in which you convert your first Red event to Green and prevent your early Amber events from turning Red will be key tests for your leadership longevity and success.
So how does this apply to Mr Johnson?
He believes that he has a clear purpose shared by his new cabinet.
But “leaving on 31 October” isn’t a purpose. Neither is it a strategy. It’s a policy. So our new PM – whose duty is to the 100% not just the 52, has articulated no purpose at all for his government. Therefore he has no strategy
He leads, whether he likes it or not, all the other MPs in his party. He cannot cherrypick who he leads. He will neglect those at great risk.
Crashing out of the EU out requires nothing more strategic than having the neck to do nothing.
His speech was silent on post-Brexit purpose and strategy other than optimism, which is neither a purpose nor a strategy. It’s a feeling.
It will be his conduct (and his cabinet’s) that will do him in, based on past form. It’s merely a matter of when not if, he misbehaves. It gives me no pleasure to write this because we will all suffer.
If you are a new leader this month, what’s your prediction for your First Hundred Days?
You can exert more control over those crucial days if you commit to linking personal and organisational PSB – purpose, strategy and behaviour.
You and Mr Johnson should carefully manage your “B” if you want to achieve your “P”.