As the UK General Election came to a close on Friday 8th May, leadership strategy comes into question as leaders of three political parties resigned following what some saw as an unexpected majority win for the Conservatives.
Although there was speculation about David Cameron’s future as leader, it was Ed Milliband, Nick Clegg, and Nigel Farage* who stepped down as leaders of their respective parties. The results left Labour and Liberal Democrats without strong leadership, bringing into question whether a succession planning strategy was even in place prior to their resignation. As a result of Labour’s poor performance, Milliband resigned, raising concerns of overall leadership and the direction of their party. However, the Liberal Democrats face an even harder challenge. Nick Clegg’s party lost almost all their seats, leaving only a handful of representatives. This resulted in not only his resignation but leaving only a small handful of successors to choose from, if they decide to elect a leader who holds a seat. A party’s failure is a continuous cycle: having a weaker leader leads to a diminished chance of success in the future, which leads to a lack of seats equalling a lack of choice for appointing a stronger successor.
Choosing new leaders is an ongoing issue faced by businesses. Leadership needs to remain at the forefront of all business future planning, always on the agenda. An important practice in business is to have an effective succession planning program. Employees in leadership positions can leave on either a planned or unplanned basis. Therefore, careful planning needs to take place to ensure fast and effective integration of the new leader, delivering greater productivity and avoiding a period of uncertainty. This enables businesses to position themselves for growth and business continuity.
Here are some basic principles of effective succession planning:
Since the political parties have not appointed successors immediately, this could lead to a lack of direction, raising uncertainty, which could effectively result in more resignations, loss of morale and lead to a loss of supporters. Hence, having an effective succession planning strategy, internally or externally, is vital to a business.
*(Ukip have denied Farage’s resignation, wanting his leadership to continue, demonstrating the importance of having a visionary leader at the helm of your business, or in this case, government party)