THREE things our leaders need to do NOW to reunite the nation

The fall out from the Brexit vote has major implications for leaders. As the days go by we see a country dividing further along lines of class, age, region and race. Now, more than ever, we need leaders to use their skills, to halt the divisive, hate fuelled rhetoric and behaviour, and use models and principles that bring us together. So if you are a leader in either an organisation, a community, an institution, here are THREE tips to create and maintain a strong, collaborative outcome:

1. Be prepared for anger and upset

When the future looks uncertain people can feel anxious and fearful. They start to imagine the worst case scenarios. So when you call a first meeting it’s likely that fingers are pointed and angry words are exchanged. This is an emotional response — not constructive — so, manage the meeting with firm ground rules and model and illustrate the principles of respect, and equity.

2. Co-create a plan that is open and transparent

It falls to the leader in charge to address the size and scope of the crisis. You don’t want to alarm people, yet do not be afraid to speak about the magnitude of the situation. Have a plan, but don’t be wedded to a single strategy and aim to create a shared plan. Keep the lines of communication open. Continue to take in new information, listen carefully and consult with all those in the team who know what’s happening.

3. Provide perspective

Leaders have another important role during a crisis and that is to provide perspective. Effective leaders can often do more by standing back from the action, and seeing ‘the long view’ or ‘the bigger picture’. A perspective which is communicated well gives people a sense of calm after the storm. So as John Baldoni states writing in the Harvard Business Review:

“The measure of a leader is often tested during a crisis. And those leaders who can engage directly, but still maintain their sense of perspective, are the ones that will help unite people in a narrative based on understanding, respect and tolerance”.

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