Rarely in its recent history has the UK needed leadership more than it does right now and will do for the foreseeable future.
That is, leadership as distinct from political management. Both are valuable assets in times of huge change. However, only leadership will facilitate a proactive, inclusive, reassuring and empowering move toward the future.
For the most part, management is focused on metrics, established benchmarks and tactics. Leadership is fundamentally aligned more with shaping mindsets, discovering entirely new ways of doing things and mapping out longer-term strategies.
Management is about structural engineering; leadership is about cultural architecture. It is about building a different cultural milieu in which people feel that they have the confidence and the security to innovate and prosper.
The UK has been a part of the European Union and the EEC before it for forty years. In its only other referendum on membership of the Common Market, as it was then known, was back in 1975.
The first test of whether the UK will flourish outside of the EU club will be the type of leadership it produces from here – in business, politics, the economy and much more.
The brand of leadership this country needs now is marked firstly by an ability to unite people, promoting inclusion and honouring those who feel excluded.
A voting result of 52 to 48 percent reflects how divided the community has become. Indeed, it is unlikely that any general election would foster disagreements within families and workspaces in the way that this referendum reportedly has done.
With or without a new general election down the line – and there is no legal requirement for one – the nation needs political leaders who have a capacity to re-energise people. To bring people together around a sense of a common cause and a common good. To practice pragmatism with a heavy dose of idealism and compassion.
The EU, which surely won’t welcome today’s outcome, should hold itself partly responsible. Time and again the EU has over-stepped the mark where national sensibilities – if not sovereignty – is concerned. Its top layer has behaved with an attitude of exclusion.
At its highest levels it has pushed a clearly federalist agenda. This despite the fact that federalism was never a major plank of the Union for which member states signed up. “Ever closer union” has long featured in EU and EEC documents, but has never been clearly defined.
Many Europhiles within the UK look on that term favourably if it refers to a close-knit trading group of interdependent nation-states. But they feel very differently about the idea of an ever closer political union, with unelected bureaucrats at its apex.
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