“Getting someone to stand in for you on a TV debate is cowardly. Saying you are brave enough to call an election and then not show up for scrutiny is beyond damaging.”
If I was asked (I won’t be) to provide some coaching for Mrs May here’s what I would say. Enjoy!
- Only ever surround yourself with the best people
Love him or loathe him I always admired the fact that Alex Salmond only ever employed the best people for the job. Being a leader doesn’t mean you trust a small coterie of acolytes, you have to be able to see through sycophancy when you are in the top job. Always have someone that will challenge your ideas and your thinking. You are NEVER right all the time. This may be unpalatable for those in power, but true.
- Be positive
You can’t possibly sell a negative message to get support. The Tory manifesto was absurd in the extreme. Giving unpleasant messages because you feel it’s for the greater good won’t win you any support. It was ridiculous and naïve. Every attack on the opposition loses you more votes than you garner. Fact.
The biggest fear politicians have is that people don’t listen to them. In a crowded market you can struggle to get your message across, you only have to look at the TV debates to see that. Ironically though, you see a lot of politicians who don’t listen to what others are saying.
- You never get a second chance to create a first impression
Simply put, once people have made up their mind about you it’s the devil’s own job to change their views. You do this by showing some humility. Enough said.
- Don’t go round kissing babies
In other words stop the insincerity, you can’t fake being someone you are not. People sniff out insincerity a mile off. The politician with the £50k watch lecturing us on spending habits doesn’t cut it. There was a certain Welsh Labour politician who had two cars, a clapped out banger for when he visited his constituency and a new one for when he wasn’t. He lost his seat.
- Communication, try it
One of the most irritating aspects of any leadership campaign is the constant repetition of mindless slogans. Plaid Cymru had #DefendWales, thereby making potential supporters looking like they were victims, lowering the voters’ self-esteem and generally making people feel worse about themselves. Ridiculous. For her part, Theresa May seems to have perfected the art of not answering a question openly and honestly. Looking evasive is the same as being evasive. Stop doing it.
- Big up those around you
Not once did I hear any praise from Theresa May for her team. Not once. The best she did was to say the Lord Mayor of London was doing a good job, and he’s not even in the same party. Why should your team walk over hot coals for you when you only ever talk about yourself?
- Leadership is an absolute privilege not a right
I know a lot of MPs from all political parties and some are the nicest people you could want to meet. There are very few who are ‘in it for themselves’, a view commonly put about after the expenses scandal. However, the arrogance of belief and right on political correctness is a complete turn off. You have to admire Jeremy Corbyn for connecting with the youth vote here; they believed he was in it for them not him. Not sure you could say that about Theresa May.
- Do not hide behind others
I’ve seen lots of leaders get others to do their dirty work for them. I once had a CEO tell me the most important job his HR Director did was to fire people so he didn’t have to. Getting someone to stand in for you on a TV debate is cowardly. Saying you are brave enough to call an election and then not show up for scrutiny is beyond damaging.
- Say sorry
Too little too late is often the politician’s approach because they don’t want to look weak. After she had been to the Palace to see the Queen, Mrs May’s address to the press was a display of tone deaf, graceless arrogance that left people watching wondering who on earth advised her to do it that way. Sack the advisors!