Opinion: Grant Speed

29 September 2017

We are in the midst of the party political conference season and a few things are certain; there will be fiery speeches, an endless diary of fringe events and gaffes. But, the matter that is concerning for many businesses and the public sector organisations, is the rapidly polarised political landscape.

Of course, we can all accept that there are political differences and that the ebb and flow of policy, no matter who is in power, is part of a healthy democracy. But, the seismic fissures that are emerging in today’s political landscape – between Brexiteers and Remainers, hard-leave and soft-leave advocates, Corbynistas and Labour’s old-guard, to name a few – are worrying for management teams.

The deadlock in agreeing a unified vision for the future of the country, even within the main political parties, is creating a strategic nightmare for leaders. How can an exporting manufacturer decide whether to expand its production capacity when the outlook for Brexit is so muddied? Equally, how should a local authority prepare for a future that could swing from austerity to one with PFI contracts scrapped, and one that could see a range of attitudes towards immigration prevail?

With difficulty, I would suggest.

And while, a management team can lobby and voice its opinions to help influence the external environment, more often than not, its own response to change will have far more impact on determining its success.

When I speak to business leaders, across the board they repeatedly champion flexibility at the core of such preparedness. Clearly, any organisation must be ready to react to the challenges and opportunities that arise from change.

The world is a very different place from a year ago, let alone from when many of us started our careers. A look back over the past year of disruption and volatility offers just a glimpse of how demands on leaders are evolving, intensifying and accelerating.

So, while it might be difficult to predict the future, we can all prepare for it. For us, it’s about making sure management teams have access to the right people – with the necessary experience, track record and skills – as and when they are needed. Because, no matter what path the UK’s political leaders take, people will no doubt be the solution.

Grant Speed, Managing Director of Odgers Interim


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