Waking up in the morning of Friday 24th June 2016, life in the UK had changed. How far that change will go is still very uncertain. There is talk of a second referendum, an Act of Parliament, MPs from the “Remain” areas (e.g. Scotland, Northern Ireland and London) blocking any moves to deliver on the narrow result, and there have been resignations and sackings galore. However, I am neither a political, constitutional or economic expert and I don’t intend to stray into that kind of territory here.
What is important to me is how the different approaches to, and understanding of, leadership have had an impact on the UK and how my own values and personality traits have shaped my interaction with the campaigns.
Personally I believe that the most important quality that any leader should possess is integrity. Integrity has been described as how you behave when no one is watching and is linked to honesty, fairness and moral courage, which is the courage to do what is right regardless of the personal implications or discomfort. Sadly, even the casual observer will have noticed that integrity seems to be the first casualty of any political campaign, or of party politics in general.
While there is considerable uncertainty about how events will now unfold and the impact that will have on the UK, the rest of Europe and the world (approximately 2 trillion US dollars was wiped off global markets on Friday), somewhere buried in all the campaign rhetoric, propaganda and half-truths is real truth about what is really the right path for us all. A genuine leader, acting with the kind of integrity expected of someone in that prestigious position, would have identified that right way, gathering information and opinion from the most highly regarded experts in their fields, and would have made that information available to the voting public in a manner that cut through partisan bias, avoided scaremongering and gave the 40 million or so potential voters something they could really use to make the right decision.
Bluntly, none of the leaders involved in the referendum campaigning did that. The Leave campaign have been backtracking on their claims since the result was announced. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership team failed to follow the lead of the major Trade Unions in getting their message out to the vast majority of traditional Labour voters. David Cameron and the Conservative leadership were unable to get past the accusations of scare tactics.
One of the main issues with any political campaign of course if that the truth is almost never black or white, which is how career politicians like to view things. The truth is invariably the grey area that exists between competing ideologies. A leader acting with integrity would know that, and be prepared to take that stance, regardless of the damage to career aspirations that may be part of the subsequent fall out.
On one side of the divide, using the issue of controlling immigration and increasing funding to the NHS showed that the desire to achieve personal victory, and lay claim to superior status was far more important than acting with genuine integrity. On the other side, the failure to acknowledge that the concerns over increasing migration and a struggling NHS were very real to a large percentage of the voting population, showed that acting with the integrity required to understand other people’s truth was less important that defeating their opponents – an ultimately costly mistake.
So in all this, where does the “i3 Profile” of the title come in, and what is an i3 Profile anyway?
A few weeks ago I was introduced to i3 Profiling when I was sent the link to the online questionnaire. It a profiling or personality assessment tool developed in South Africa and used across a wide spectrum of business and personal situations. It can be used to support recruitment of the right members of staff, to help develop highly effective teams, and to provide a genuine insight into individual personality; it is a powerful self-awareness too. After completing my questionnaire and receiving my feedback I was impressed and so signed up to be trained as an i3 coach and consultant. It was on the training course in Newcastle that the real learning journey began and I am now completely convinced of the value. The real “light bulb” moment for me came as I matched my dominant trait of perceiving with my activity on social media during the run up to the referendum.
High perceivers have an unconscious need to tell and share the truth (as best as they understand it). It was from that instinctive position that I felt the need to post the views of Chatham House, the IMF and any other number of globally respected bodies. The self-awareness I had gained from the i3 profile helped me understand that really I had no choice in the matter – faced with a political campaign defined by polarised opinion I had to try and get the truth out there. It was the only way for me to act with integrity and be true to both my values and my personality. The comments and angry retorts from those with a different version of the truth were the pain and discomfort that resulted.
With the referendum now over, the UK will return to the party politics that our system is renowned for and I shall most likely return to not voting. The leaders of all the political parties do not act with anywhere near enough integrity for me to endorse the system they inhabit. They lack the moral courage to do the right thing regardless of personal pain and they are just not honest enough with each other and with the general public for me to hold them in any sort of regard. If you aspire to be a leader, of a sports team, department, business, political party or the country, first, foremost and always you must act with the highest levels of integrity. To behave in any other way is to let down those that you lead and to undermine the leadership position that you hold.