What Leaders Can Learn From the Government Spill

The nation watched in shock recently as for the fourth time in 8 years another Prime Minister was ousted by their own government.

The chaos and deceit that occurred within the Liberal government in the lead up to the spill that saw Turnbull being ousted in favour of Scott Morrison has been widely reported. 

What’s really interesting if we reflect on what happened in the leadership spill is that essentially there was a hairline crack in leadership that went on to create a chasm in the party. 

The exact same thing can happen within senior leadership teams if we let it. Even a hint of a hairline crack can cause an almighty divide across an organisation,  creating a toxic culture that is not conducive to business results. 

So what can we as leaders learn from the government spill to create more alignedsenior leadership teams?

Lesson One: Cabinet Unity is Essential 

The first thing a senior leadership team needs to demonstrate is cabinet unity – a group of people being aligned and committed to one cause. It’s clear in the recent leadership spill there was a clear lack of cabinet unity. 

In senior leadership teams, it’s absolutely critical that leaders demonstrate unity to avoid the division that will have the power to create silos that grow into large rifts within an organisation. 

Now does this mean that all of your leaders are going to agree 100% of the time? Definitely, not. There needs to be space for people to challenge each other, have alternate views and give feedback. 

But when you finish a meeting, even if there is only  70 or 80% agreement amongst leaders, as you walk out of the room everyone needs to be 100% committed to the decisions that are made. 

Irrespective of which area of the business a leader comes from, if someone asks what has been discussed there should be a common message that comes through, and a consistent strategy.

Lesson Two: 1.2 Style Thinking

Have you ever been in a senior leadership meeting where you feel as if every individual leader is more concerned about the success of their own team, as opposed to the success of the business as a whole?

The CMO might be requesting more budget and resources so they can hit their targets, but the CTO might think the budget is better spent on their department. 

This style of thinking and behaviour, is what we call 2.1 style thinking, and is very common in the corporate world. 

In an environment where C-suite level executives and managers are generally judged on their team’s performance, it’s natural that leaders want to do what they can to put their teams in a better position. 

However this traditional 2.1 style thinking model, where the primary focus of leaders is the success of their team, and secondary focus is the success of the business, generally only serves to create a competitive, dysfunctional and sometimes toxic environment where people are too concerned with promoting and defending their own arms of the business.

If we reflect on the recent leadership spill we can also identify this style of thinking – politicians seemed far more concerned with their own political objectives, as opposed to prioritising what is actually right for the government and country as a whole. 

However, in order to create an aligned culture, where everyone is working towards a common goal, you need to flip this style of thinking into what we call 1.2 Thinking. 

1.2 Thinking creates a culture where seniors leader’s first priority is the success of the organisation. Meetings focus on the overall strategy of the business, and then how this trickles down into respective arms of the business. 

While there will still be space for robust discussions and differing opinions, this model of thinking ensures that everyone is on the same page, and enables teams to cut out power plays and the competitive team vs. team mentality that naturally develop in 2.1 style thinking models. 

We dive into this topic further in our video ‘How to Create An Aligned Culture’ – take 5 minutes to watch it now by clicking below.


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