The United Kingdom’s ruling Conservative Party has had a rough time so far this year. But hopefully some good can come out of it, both for Britain and for aspiring business people.
The recent tumult in Westminster, Britain’s seat of government, has been extraordinary. First, Prime Minister Boris Johnson got ousted, quickly followed by the ejection of the woman who took over, Liz Truss. Now it’s Rishi Sunak’s turn to take the helm. Hopefully, he’ll bring some stability to the role. We’ll see.
However, in the meantime, budding entrepreneurs and corporate executives would do well to learn something from what just happened.
The issue comes down to leadership and what qualities leaders need. The truth is there’s only one, and most corporate drones don’t know it.
Corporate Leadership Babble
Corporations and investors often point to a slew of characteristics which define leaders. These include words and phrases such as the following:
- Innovative, caring, entrepreneurial, groundbreaking, hardworking, insightful intelligent, diligent, etc.
The attributes often change with the wind. And human resources staffs waste massive resources coming up with new criteria that are always seen as positive characteristics, depending on the time and the place.
Leadership Not Synonymous With Angelic
And it is indeed a waste of everyone’s time. That’s because a multitude of leaders from history were abominable, but at the same time they had followers. Some of those people were evil, but they likely couldn’t have carried out their moral crimes to the extent that they did without having complicit followers. Communist leader Joe Stalin comes to mind.
At the same time, Winston Churchill, who stood up to evil with great vigor, was a great leader. And he could not have done the great things he did without followers. He also had many traits we wouldn’t wind acceptable now.
But the truth is, for better or worse, only one leadership characteristic is essential. Leaders must have followers. When they don’t have followers they cease to be leaders.
Boris Johnson Was A Leader, Then He Wasn’t
Take for instance Johnson (a.k.a. Boris.) He had many followers. He led his party to victory in a general election, and then through the Covid-19 pandemic.
And then a scandal happened, and Boris didn’t have the followers he needed. He was sent on his merry way. He may be back. We’ll see.
Liz Truss Was a Leader Until She Wasn’t
After that followed a leadership contest in which Liz Truss had the most followers.
But again that changed. The now infamous mini-budget sent other Conservative members of parliament into a tizzy, and suddenly Truss didn’t have the followers she needed. She may be back again. We’ll see,
Are you getting the picture?
The message is simple. People without followers cannot, by definition, be leaders. That’s important for anyone starting a business or trying to climb the corporate ladder. If people will follow you into the equivalent of a battle, then you are doing well and will likely succeed. If they won’t follow you across the road, then you’ve got a problem.
The sad thing is that within a few seconds of meeting someone, you usually know whether you’d want to follow.