I learned a great deal last week. I learned about politics and communication; about leadership and inspiration; about circuses and clowns; and about opinion polls and surveys. I was in the UK. A public holiday on Monday. Our UK general election on Thursday. And my son’s last day at school on Friday (prior to exam study leave).
Friday was a wonderful last day at school for my son’s class…the theme chosen for the day was ‘the circus’. A great idea superbly well implemented by an excellent team. Lots of fantastic outfits, activities and fancy dress; so many smiles and so much laughter captured and shared. Moments and memories created. I wasn’t at school of course, but I was at home. It was another big day for my family – for my wife and me especially – our son’s last day at school. I wanted to be home. I had to be there. Smiles and memories for sure…but also a few tears as well.
Thursday’s UK general election was a surprise. More specifically the results were a big surprise. A surprise because the result was nothing like any outcome predicted by any of the surveys or opinion polls published in advance. For weeks, our TV screens and news pages had been full of confident predictions of ‘no clear winner’, of a ‘hung parliament’.
I voted early on Thursday. Even though I have a ‘postal vote’ I took advantage of being at home to enjoy walking to the polling station in our local village hall. An experience I have missed the last few times.
By the end of Election Day, the UK had an overall winner, and surprises everywhere, and many embarrassed pollsters. By the end of Friday, three of our most well-known political leaders had resigned, and the opinion poll companies were calling for an inquiry. Of themselves and of their abysmal performance!
Why had their predictions been so wrong? I don’t know. I’m not sure how much I care. We all know that market research is of predictive value. It can absolutely guide us in what we do. But we can’t be slaves to it. It’s far too easy to believe in market research when it supports what we want to do…and to explain it away when it counters our beliefs.
At various times over Thursday and Friday, all of our political leaders looked surprised and happy, disconsolate and tired, distraught and confused, elated and relieved. What surprised me most was how impressive, passionate and compelling they all sounded at the point when they were accepting or resigning. Somehow, in what appeared to be a moment of unexpected emotion, their passion and commitment came through. A moment when they said those words out loud rather than reading them silently…a moment where they combined passion and commitment with a true sense of values and beliefs. A moment that had too often been missing in all the stage managed events leading up to Thursday.
I know politics these days is influenced greatly by social media and ‘sound bites’. Politics seems to be more about how you look and sound and less about what you believe and what you say. But passion and commitment are always apparent when you see them and hear them. Genuine leadership is as obvious as disingenuous leadership. Whatever we do – whether we are politicians or parents, colleagues or friends, leaders or team members – it always helps if we are true to what we believe in and. are consistent in those beliefs.
My main learning from this busy week? Simple…the power of a great idea superbly well implemented by an excellent team.