Five leadership secrets you can learn from Nicola Sturgeon
22 April 2015 -
The SNP leader has electrified the General Election campaign, even though she’s not actually standing for a Westminster seat. What leadership and management lessons can you learn from Nicola Sturgeon?
1. SAY YOU’LL END SOMETHING NASTY
As a new manager, you’ll want to make a mark immediately and gain the trust and respect of colleagues and staff. The backbone of Nicola Sturgeon’s campaign has been to promise a clean break from the “ills” of the previous regime, instead vowing to give voters “progressive change”. Whether you agree with her or not, the SNP leader’s commitment to ending austerity and that she’ll never enter a coalition agreement with David Cameron’s Conservative Party, has resonated with many voters. Identifying the key issues most troubling your staff from the onset can quickly build their support.
2. MAKE ABUSE YOUR FRIEND
Business leaders have to make difficult decisions, from redundancies to pay freezes, to protect the overall health of the company. Detractors, even haters will inevitably emerge. Nicola Sturgeon has made her disaffection for the Coalition government abundantly clear and, as a result, has attracted the whole gamut of insults from rivals and media - including a baby-killing Godzilla, Lady Macbeth, wee Jimmy Krankie and the most dangerous woman in the world. But rather than become embroiled in a slanging match, the SNP leader has so far remained classy and simply laughed the comments off.
3. FOCUS ON EFFICIENCY RATHER THAN FLAMBOYANCY CEO
Nicola Sturgeon succeeded a political giant in Alex Salmond, the man who almost led Scotland to independence. He, like many big personalities, is a hard act to follow. At times, however, his forceful personality often overshadowed the SNP’s actual policies, thus ruffling the feathers of voters and party activists alike. Sturgeon has played the professional-manager-taking-over-from-charismatic-founder card to perfection. She’s been efficient and highly organised in running the SNP organisation. Critically, by coming across as methodical, open and, again, clinically efficient, she’s managed to translate a primarily Scottish message to a British audience. Relying on intellect and instinctive political nous, Sturgeon has earned admiration from Holyrood and Westminster for her calmness and responsibility – not something you’d have anticipated at the beginning of the campaign.
4. BE THE DISRUPTER AT A TIME WHEN PEOPLE ARE RECEPTIVE TO CHANGE
We live in a time of dramatic social and economic change. Largely driven by technology, many norms are being challenged: how we communicate, how we shop, how we work… everything is in a state of flux. This is a daily reality for all voters, so Nicola Sturgeon’s message of the need for fundamental political and constitutional change has fallen on receptive ears. There’s a lesson in this for all business leaders: by being open to new and innovative ideas, you can market yourself as a positive disrupter who will provide a fresh perspective and a new way to tend to the needs of staff and customers. In her personal style, dress sense and linguistic approach, she’s often been a glaring contrast to her “legacy” rivals David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.
5. ONLY TALK ABOUT ONE THING
From Henry T Ford to Steve Jobs, great leaders have always built their businesses around one, core theme. For the SNP leader, whose rhetoric is centred on Scottish nationalism, focusing on one major goal is the drumbeat to improve all areas of your organisation. A throwback politician, Sturgeon has targeted a narrow group of voters in the Highland and central belt of Scotland who are likely to the swing the vote in their favour, spreading uplifting messages of Scotland. The result: SNP membership quadrupled since the referendum, while the traditional parties have seen their numbers dwindle.
Image courtesy of 1000 Words – from Shutterstock
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