Let’s be honest, many or most business leaders wanted to remain in the EU (i.e. were part of the 48% who voted ‘remain’). Not necessarily out of affection for the institutions of the EU, but certainly to avoid uncertainty and a slowdown. So many leaders, including me, woke on the 24th June disappointed, the problem now exacerbated by a political vacuum. Britain currently lacks either effective government or opposition and there is no agreed plan for Brexit. No wonder there is talk of ‘Regrexit’.
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Only this week we learned that the share of British businesses that are pessimistic about the economic outlook over the next 12 months doubled from 25 per cent to 49 per cent after the vote to leave the European Union, according to a study by YouGov.
Despite this, now the dust is starting to settle it is time to deal with our new reality, for all its challenges. The emotions many are experiencing will be following the well documented ‘Change Curve’, which was based on how people grieve loss.
The bottom line is that our stakeholders need us to get on and do our jobs, grow our businesses, create value and look after our customers and people. So it is now time to put aside our disappointment, stop complaining or holding out for a second referendum and give 100% commitment to the present and future of our businesses.
Although we face an uncertain trading environment for the next couple of years, let us remember what we have. For us at Value Partnership that means:
• We work from the most global and cosmopolitan city on earth, London
• Inside and outside the EU, we have great relationships with individuals and companies, especially in our neighbours France and Germany
• We value the cultural diversity of our clients, partners and colleagues enormously
• We have the capacity to add value, and the cultural awareness and linguistic skills to work across borders
The expertise, skill, values and relationships embedded in these assets will help us to continue to thrive, as long as I and my colleagues provide the leadership.
The future will always be uncertain – no one predicted the depth of the oil crisis of the 70’s. Nobody dared to think that 9/11 could happen, despite the many scenario-planning sessions that were no doubt taking place and nobody predicted the depth of the 1980 recession. These were all global shocks. Moreover, there will be others after Brexit.
The constant in all this is that our businesses need well developed, adaptable strategies to deal with the world as it evolves. Strong, committed, bold and decisive leadership and brilliant execution.
In our work on the ‘8 Foundations’ we stressed the qualities a leadership team needs to succeed in this new world. They include outside-in working, pivot capability and strategy in action. One we want to stress right now is diversity. We need to take care of our people, and we need their commitment and talent to ensure that we can progress and succeed. Colleagues from across Europe may feel concerned about what Brexit means for them. Small divisions could escalate if ignored. Reach out to your colleagues and tell them how much you value them. Move forward as a united team and company.
A divided country is unhealthy and a divided business is the same. If nothing else, and not without irony, the Brexit vote teaches us that we really are stronger together.
Feel free to get in touch with your own comments and views.
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