19th June 2019 2 minutes read

It’s tough at the top: why CEOs and the new PM may share a challenging future

With arguably the most important leadership position in the UK on the table and the battle for the Tory top spot reaching its peak, Green Park CEO, Raj Tulsiani, draws a politics-free comparison between the leadership challenges faced by the new PM and those of the current CEO. 

Leadership challenges

If I were recruiting for the role of Prime Minister, I imagine the person specification would contain the following jargon: advocate; leader; facilitator with negotiation skills; ambassadorial relationship management, credibility driving an organization through transformation and an electable convener of powerful stakeholders.

As it happens, these are the skills that many CEOs must have right now too: just as the new PM must navigate a turbulent and uncertain internal future and external environment, so must most other leaders of complex organisations. 

Most organisations are struggling to keep up with the pace of digital and customer transformation, juggling risks to everything from GDPR legislation and growing financial and regulatory risks, to increased public scrutiny and the financial uncertainty of a post-Brexit Britain. Together, these factors are heightening anxiety and it is up to the CEO to pacify and reassure all stakeholder groups, external and internal, who react to increased uncertainty with mistrust, dispute or worst still, turning their attention elsewhere. At the same time, CEOs mustn’t compromise their values or the promises they made to gain stakeholder support and land them their seat.

Moving the dial on diversity

Some may say the selection of PM frontrunners could be more diverse. That’s certainly the case for the average board. Although the gender balance is improving, there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of ethnicity and disability. Green Park’s leadership series show through the mapping of over 300,000 leadership roles how Diversity ebbs and flows from sector to sector, dependent on brand perceptions, recruitment and inclusion. The fact that we put a diverse person on (or directly into) a board every 14 days last year shows that talent is everywhere, but engagement is not.

This lack of choice also will be manifested in whoever finishes first in the race for PM, we hope they will uphold Theresa May’s intention to introduce ethnicity pay-gap reporting and continue to support reviews, such as those by Sir John Parker, Sir Philip Hampton and the late Dame Helen Alexander, taking positive steps towards more balanced workforces.

It’s clear that number 10’s new incumbent has some interesting times ahead, as do the UK’s Public, Private and Third Sector organisations. Will the new PM and future CEO’s rise to the biggest challenge of all; not just winning the contest but leading in a direction where all citizens can benefit equally based on their performance, creating an environment where inclusion really does drive productivity?

 

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