The crisis in Egypt, Libya and indeed the whole of the Middle East is an eye-opening event to observe as an outsider. It is clear to those in the Far East & the West that great change is occuring in the Middle.

So when the paradigms that held an old regime, or leadership style in place, change radically – how is a leader supposed to retain control? Or perhaps more topically, how does a new leader successfully take the reigns – when a new direction may not even be clear? It is these questions we will be discussing in this article.

Change of Direction = New Leader?

Does a radical change in policy actually require a new leader? Would only a fresh set of eyes, ears and arms be able to take on the challenge of turning a country, business or community around? If we are to look to politics for the answer, it would seem the answer is yes. When a country decides that it wants a new direction, in a civil democratic state – it will typically choose to elect a new party. This is a vote of non confidence in the ability of the prevailing politician to be able to execute that change for themselves.When the USA decided that the Republican Party under the leadership of George Bush wasn’t sufficient as to meet their needs, they switched to the Democrats.

In part, I believe this doesn’t represent the actual reality. I believe that much like ‘savvy’ customers switching companies when bad service is received – ‘fast switchers’ are simply switching to the brand that hasn’t let them down. In a world dominated by >a href=””>brand, leadership is no different. Once a leader’s brand has been tarnished, the competitors brands will look far superior, regardless of their ability to execute real change. The lesson we can learn from this, is that perception is extremely important for a leader. When a leader can be switched out after one mistake, every decision that leader makes is absolutely crucial. Management change experts like Stephen Warrilow will explain that “A step change initiative needs to be led – and it needs to be seen to be led“, and herein lies the key technique.

For an existing leader to successfully lead change, and be allowed the time to execute change, it must be seen first. What follows is that leaders must identify change opportunities and jump on them as soon as possible, so as to regain the confidence of their followers. Otherwise, their leadership brand will be tarnished and followers could ‘jump ship’ to the apposing brand before the (potentially very competent) leader has had the chance to turn the ship.

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