Thursday, 1 October 2015

Just be yourself.

There are many things about the new Labour leader which have left me perplexed – I gather I am not alone! I’m not talking simply about appearance but rather about dangerously radical opinions, dubious friendships and a tendency to look back rather than forwards.  However, like many others I am being forced to revise some of my opinions in the light of what he is actually achieving even at this early stage.

Jeremy Corbyn may ultimately not make his party electable to govern and some of his rather more extreme views may be his undoing. But I think you have to admit that right now he is like a breath of fresh air in our politics.

The particular action that he’s taken that makes me think he is relevant to a business column is the stance he has taken over Prime Minister’s Questions. By insisting on civilised debate and an inclusive approach, Jeremy Corbyn has liberated the whole process and shifted the emphasis away from style and on to content. In a boardroom context, this for me is the equivalent of standing up to a bully-boy Chairman who stifles debate around the table for personal ends.

Simultaneously, Mr Corbyn has followed one of the golden rules for business growth which is to vigorously challenge habits which have been in place for many years. Such things, in a strange way, are protected and cherished even though they are clearly wrong. It takes a brave person to say things are going to change. Just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t guarantee that there isn’t a far better way available to us.

For me, the other way major way in which the Labour leader has espoused values of extreme importance also in the world of business is his use of authenticity. In his world the use of spin has become ubiquitous to the point of completely denying the audience of opinions which are valued.

Ironically for someone who is often likened to comrade this or that, Jeremy Corbyn takes us away from the sterility of a party line that may have come out of a five year soviet plan. I can’t wait for his appearance of Question Time when for once we will hear views that are passionately upheld and of great personal importance. In business, this can be likened to the use of authenticity in presentations and brand building.

Whether you are talking about the public or your customers, it’s time to get honest and just be yourself. I’m not saying abandon the plan but be flexible enough to follow your heart from time to time rather than the head for the whole time.

At the end of the day, achieving change is a slow process whether in political or business terms, but you have to admire people who at least have the guts to tackle the problem head on.

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