Bulletin / What Happens When...

What Happens When You Lose a Leader?

Author: Charlie Maclean-Bristol, Training Director, FBCI, FEPS

This week, Charlie is bringing the TMF music festival to us! After seeing a band carry on without their lead singer, Charlie has written some great business continuity takeaways from this event.

I am currently on holiday in the Isle of Tiree at TMF, their annual music festival. We always do the whole camping thing; I’m taking a full pick-up of all the things you need for a festival, including table chairs, tents, and camping beds! I don’t normally write a bulletin when I am away, but last night I suddenly had a moment of inspiration and thought I would put pen to paper, then got the computer out this morning.

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My inspiration is not the demise of Boris Johnson and his resignation, but the band Jam Sandwich, who struggled last night as their lead singer could not get onto the island, due to mist affecting the plane. The band plays indie rock and belts out all the classics, they are real crowd-pleasers! The lead singer, Matt McGrail, is a very charismatic frontman bouncing around the stage connecting with the audience, and leading the band.

The rest of the band do their thing and support him, however, last night they were all a bit lost.. The lead guitarist took on a singing role and it was obvious that he didn't know the words as he had to be prompted by the huge iPad that he had infront of him. He also struggled through the set with his voice, and got the crowd to sing most of the words.

Luckily, as the songs were all the classics, the crowd knew them word for word. What I liked and admired about the band is that they were determined to give the crowd what they wanted. Also, as the audience love the band they wanted them to succeed too.

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The lesson here is that often in organisations we have a leader, and the team is comfortable with them leading their decision making and how they deal with incidents. Already doing a good job, often showing in exercises or real-life events, we don’t wake a the deputy leader run the exercises, which means they can't gain the same skills as a leader.

Therefore in your exercises, imagine that the current leader of the team is on a long flight, or on a cruise, or climbing in an inaccessible part of the world, and can’t be contacted.. Use the leader to debrief and mentor their deputy, thereby passing on their skills. It is much easier to practice the role than to struggle on the day.

The other lesson which I hope was learnt, is that if you have somewhere to be, you need to have contingency in transport; this is also something I have learnt myself! If you travel, and end up catching the very last plane, boat, or train, nearly on every occasion, it might get cancelled, or delayed, and you could miss the event.

In the words of Freddy Mercury “the show must go on”, not sure what Boris is doing, trying to stay away from the news, but Jam Sandwich powered through and gave the crowd what they wanted.

Can our politicians do the same for the country?

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