Total Business Magazine

Brexit: Lessons in Leadership in Uncertain Times

For many businesses heavily involved with Europe for trade and custom, the ongoing saga that is Brexit is a daily headache they could do without. With more unpredictable times ahead, now is not the time to use Brexit as an excuse to dither, but instead focus on showing courage, clarity, action and most importantly, leadership.

Below Jeremy Snape, chief executive of Sporting Edge, talks Total business through some of the le4ssons we can learn from today’s certain uncertainty.

There are many professions, such as professional sport and the military, where uncertainty and pressure are the norm. What if you could apply the same tactics used by coaches and generals to help your employees adopt a winning mindset that will support them through coming months?

In the last decade I have spoken with some of the world’s most impressive and prolific leaders, from Sir Alex Ferguson to military generals and even the Performance Director at the Cirque du Soleil about what it takes to win.

I started out on this journey when, as an England cricketer, I choked in front of 120,000 people in an England game against India. It was then that I realised my mindset was the key to my success. This set me on a research quest, to go inside the mind of champions and to share their insights for the benefit of all of us in our daily lives.

In doing so I have distilled the secrets of their success to help business leaders to develop and maintain a Winning Mindset.

Here are four tactics to help you lead effectively in these uncertain times:

1. Stop blaming others; own the situation

With our current situation there are plenty of people your management team might feel like blaming– the electorate; former Prime Minister David Cameron; the EU; MPs in Westminster; our Prime Minister.  If that is what you they are doing, they need to get over it.

Uncertainty creates opportunity; begin by owning the situation and making a plan that turns the uncertainty into an advantage.  After all, other businesses have the same problems so those that actively tackle the situation will be the ones that succeed.

2. Pressure is a privilege

Having played in and worked with some of the world’s highest profile sporting teams, I’ve seen how they use pressure as privilege and use this mindset to tackle potential issues head on.

In sport, the best coaches prepare their teams for Plan A, but they also throw scenarios into the training that get the teams thinking on their feet. I’ve supported several senior leadership sessions at Sandhurst military academy and heard how they create challenging and chaotic scenarios to test the soldiers’ ability to think clearly and adapt under pressure.

In a business context, the aim for leaders is to build your team’s self-belief so that they work together to solve complex problems rather than simply putting every problem back in your lap.

3. Don’t micromanage – enable

An effective leader needs to have confidence that their team will know how to find solutions while under intense pressure. It’s especially important for small businesses, where limited resources could mean the actions or inactions of one person will disrupt the entire set up.

By relinquishing some control, you will help your them to have the confidence to make good decisions without fearing the risk of blame.

4. Be fluid not fixed

Leaders must understand that they can’t predict and prevent all problems from arising, they must prepare so they can assess and respond quickly.

Understanding your biggest Brexit threats and rehearsing how your business will respond if they become reality is important to be able to withstand the pressure that comes from uncertainty.

Confidence comes from preparation, so plan for the unexpected and turn disruption to a commercial advantage.


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