A Review of the Leadership Year… And Looking Ahead to 2019

Posted by: Nigel Girling Post Date: 14th December 2018

It’s been a challenging and fascinating year for leaders in 2018. But then you know that. You were there.

Commentators, by which I mostly mean journalists and editors, have told us that we’ve never experienced a time of more uncertainty, danger or difficulty and that it’s only going to get worse.

Thanks for the encouragement, media people.

I take a different view (I usually do) and think we are entering a time of huge opportunity. Yes, we’ve seen a lot of upheaval and yes, we face uncertain and challenging times ahead. But then we usually do. Let’s look back briefly over the last 5 decades:

review of the leadership year
  • In the 1970’s we had massive industrial unrest, constant strikes, the cold war in full effect, the constant threat of nuclear attack, runaway inflation, a collapsing economy, poor living standards, a housing crisis, the electricity turned off, companies shutting for two extra days per week and, worst of all, England failing to qualify for two successive World Cups.
  • In the 1980’s we saw the rise of Thatcherism, a booming financial sector, renewed confidence but the destruction of our manufacturing and primary sectors, the miner’s strike, flying pickets, monetarism, rapid growth in home ownership, a housing boom and the increasing polarisation of those that had and those that did without. Oh, and Spandau Ballet.
  • The 90’s saw John Major, Riots against the Poll Tax, the rise of New Labour, Tony Blair, Cool Britannia, Girl Power, War in the Gulf, IRA bombs in London, Economic turmoil, the EU exchange rate mechanism,  an IRA mortar attack on No 10 Downing Street, IRA bombs in Manchester, Race riots in cities, ASBOs introduced to quell street violence.
  • The 2000’s brought us anti-capitalist rioting in London, several major rail crashes, Harold Shipman, anti-police rioting, Foot & Mouth crisis decimating UK agriculture, war in Iraq, terrorist attacks on the twin towers in the US affecting the UK too, the last major UK-owned car company, MG Rover closes down, bombs on the London underground, economic downturn following the collapse of banks, leading to 12 years of austerity to repay the national debt.

And so to our own decade – the first coalition Government since WW2, ‘austerity’ spending cuts, the fastest contraction of public services in generations, the rise of UKIP, plans for HS2, the Scottish Independence referendum, the EU referendum, Trump, the rise of the Far Right and so on.

The point I’m making is this: Every decade is full of challenges, disasters, difficulties, uphill struggles, economic turmoil, political uncertainty, international unrest, market fluctuations, regulatory impositions and so on.

That’s just life.

However, I suggest that it’s also fair to say that every decade is filled with great inventions, scientific breakthroughs, new alliances, human endeavour and brilliance, economic opportunities, great ideas and advances in the way we live.

It isn’t the times or the challenges or the ‘weather’ that matters. It is leaders. We make the difference. How we respond to these challenges and opportunities will set the tone, show the way and bring people together to create a better tomorrow. We just have to step up and lead the way.

It’s called leadership.

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