The former PM Margaret Thatcher passed away Monday 8th April 2013. There are many people lining up to pay tribute to her and her achievements. Putting her political aspects to one side, let’s reflect on her achievements and what we can learn from a leadership perspective.
Being the first woman Prime Minister wasn’t easy for her or those around her. I vaguely remember that she wasn’t even in the running to be leader of her party and then became PM very suddenly and unexpectedly. The “Old-Boys” network must have had a near heart attack on her arrival.
Some long-time Tory MPs found it difficult to report to a woman or think of her as their boss. Others went completely the other way and followed her every word and instruction as though she was an angel sent from heaven. Neither of those behaviours carried any weight with our Maggie.
Maggie took many lessons in dealing effectively with the media and camera-work. Some of her speeches are case studies in effective oratory. No matter how many sessions she took in media, she refused to change the essence of how she spoke, even though many accused her of sounding aloof and out of touch. She wanted to remain authentic and true to herself.
On paying tribute to her, one of her first ministers recalled her advice to him: “If you can explain it in under one minute, then it’s worth doing.”
Clarity in communication was the top of her list and perhaps it should be the top of ours too.
There are many decisions that she made correctly. I am sure that there are countless decisions she called wrong too. It is this area that she will be remembered for.
Maggie would make the decisions and stick rigidly to them.
“This lady is not for turning.” Is a famous and memorable quote easily recalled from her time in office.
It was her downfall in the end, with ministers tiring of her Leadership style and playing “second-fiddle” to her “My –way-or-the-highway” style of managing them.
If you are calling all the shots and making all the decisions, maybe your team are also tiring of being under your shadow?
Margaret Thatcher’s legacy is that she modernised a sick economy, using tough tactics to overcome vested interests in Trade Unions, and within her own party. She was one of the first leaders to point out the flaws in European Union, which are only too clear to us all now.
Margaret also struck a good accord with Ronald Regan, the then US President, which brought many benefits of mutual cooperation.
Legacy is considered the buzzword of the year in the UK because this was the overriding goal of the London Olympics, however every leader should look at their own legacy and consider what they would like to be known for in their time as leader. Make every decision count towards your own fine legacy.