This is our truth, tell us yours
One of the key topics in leadership is what you do when you assume the leadership.
I’ve heard it called the 100 days problem. What do you do in the first 100 days that defines how you will lead from then on, and determines to a disproportionate extent what you will achieve.
I don’t know of all the approaches. I’ve seen some of them. The detailed grid of actions. The incredible plan. The pause and reflect approach – always useful after a long election struggle.
The one I like best I think of as setting the tone. You can’t change everything, so you set the tone immediately. You avoid getting lost in fine detail, because too much focus on one detail will lead to others being overlooked. You model the behaviours you would expect in others, you demonstrate your priorities and the skills you value, and you explain to those you lead that everything they do should be congruent with your style and tone.
Now read this article by Nick Clegg. Ignore the fact that an obvious error that pointed up the illegality of the detention of David Miranda had to be edited out. Focus on the explanation Nick Clegg is offering.
Essentially, he is saying that after three years in which he has been at the leadership of the British state, its agents and agencies ignore what matters to him, reject his priorities and go ahead and unlawfully detain travellers in order to intimidate them.
That leaves you with very few choices, none of them palatable for anyone who voted LibDem in 2010.
It could be that Nick Clegg supported the actions of the Immigration officials who detained David Miranda. In that case he’s at best a hypocrite and at worst a liar.
It could be that Nick Clegg is powerless to stop David Cameron who sets the tone government servants follow; in that case Clegg is a human shield with all the substance and depth of a fig leaf.
Or worst of all, he’s actually incompetent, and doesn’t realise that if your agents act in a way that doesn’t reflect your values, it’s about your leadership.
None of the above reflects well on Clegg or the party that sustains him.