The Brexit saga is now creating a full-blown national crisis in the UK. There have been so many mis-steps throughout the process, it’s hard to know where to start. But, in this note, I’m just going to focus on one.

Our Prime Minister, Mrs. May, developed the Withdrawal Agreement with her political and civil service advisors, not with her cabinet colleagues. As a result, in the House of Commons and across the country as a whole, she is seen as the sole owner of the deal. Even the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to it as “The Prime Minister’s deal” in an interview this week.

The best way to build joint ownership for an idea is to encourage and facilitate genuine involvement in its development. In terms of my work in strategy, that means all members of the executive team must have a meaningful role in its creation. Only then will each director be willing and able to enthusiastically share the same strategic message and lead the next steps of delivery. John Kotter, the Harvard Business School professor on leadership and change management, calls this group the ‘guiding coalition.’

On an issue as contentious as Brexit, a guiding coalition was an essential pre-requisite for success. Mrs. May’s biggest failure of all was a failure to build this coalition across her cabinet. Now, she not only looks like a zombie PM but, even in a packed House of Commons, she also looks like one of the loneliest people in the country.


Off The Record: Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles

Eleanor Rigby –

Died in the church and was buried along with her name

Nobody came!

Father Mackenzie –

Wiping the dirt from his hand as he walks from the grave

No-one was saved!

© Stuart Cross 2019. All rights reserved.