With a head of lettuce lasting longer than Liz Truss’s leadership tenure, here’s a look at what her resignation teaches us about management
If you haven’t been living under a metaphorical rock, you must have heard all about Britain’s political drama and British media’s unhinged demolition of the people involved (watch: BBC’s hilarious Instagram reel about Liz Truss’s leadership).
Many recent British leaders have become infamous for their rather ungraceful exits. In September, Boris Johnson stepped down in a similar fashion, facing pressure from the people after his many scandals got him undone. Liz Truss replaced him, vowing not to quit, then promptly resigned within six weeks on October 20, 2022. With Truss came a terrible recession where the pound took a huge fall, shocking inflation led to high prices and a ball of lettuce started clocking her time in the post.
No doubt, there is plenty to learn about what NOT to do when in a leadership position. Here are our top takeaways:
1. Modern problems require modern solutions
One of Truss’s introduced economic plans was a US$50 billion unfunded tax plan that aimed at cutting taxes on the rich. Her ideology was that if the country would reduce taxes on the rich, its impact would flow from top to bottom, a.k.a. the “trickle-down growth effect”, bringing forth positive influence to all classes.
This tactic was inspired by the reign of former British PM Margaret Thatcher. But bear in mind that Thatcher was in power in the 1980s. Truss failed to realize that, sometimes, old solutions, as successful as they may have been, should be left in the past.
As managers, you must understand that just because a policy appeared to have worked in the past doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work now or years later. Know when to recycle and when to let bygones be bygones.
2. Choose your words carefully
“I am a fighter, not a quitter,” Truss declared during a speech in parliament just one day before she resigned. A powerful statement at the time, it gave the media and people enough fodder to mock her mercilessly following her resignation.
As a leader, you simply cannot rule out the possibility of failure, no matter how good you are. You cannot let success get to your head, which is why, when drafting speeches, make sure you don’t say anything that others can hold against you or your image later on. It may end up impacting your future propositions and might even make you look inauthentic.
3. Think before you quit
Just as you shouldn’t let success get to your head, you should avoid letting failure get to your heart. Yes, sometimes, the only option is to quit. However, before you resort to that, consider other options, such as revamping your policies, consulting with your teammates and drafting a comeback plan. You can rebuild your reputation, just as actor Johnny Depp did following his defamation case.
4. Listen to criticism
Rest assured, few people accepted Truss’s decisions sitting down. From social media memes to press conferences, people criticized the former leader’s economic agenda ruthlessly. However, she carried on, not listening to experts and citizens express their dismay over her plans. In the end, she lost credibility and, eventually, her position.
5. Take accountability
Humility came to Truss as a last resort. Throughout her tenure, she remained overconfident in her plans, firing, rehiring and dismissing her own team members, depending on how agreeable they were to her. She wanted to be surrounded by a team of “yes” people who validated her role but could also be thrown under the bus.
Truss sacked her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and reversed all her economic plans. She was all over the place till constant calls for her resignation finally got to her. Now, within a year, a third Prime Minister has been instated: Rishi Sunak. Sunak had predicted the failure of Truss’s plan, and now he has the chance to take the U.K. in a different direction. The task that lies ahead is enormous. Will he succeed? We suppose you will need to keep your eyes peeled for the next few months. And hopefully, the country won’t need another lettuce to keep time for this one.
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