What can managers and leaders learn from Brexit?

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Written by Stuart Cameron on 11 February 2019 in Features

Stuart Cameron outlines what managers and leaders can learn from Brexit.

Reading time: 4m 30s.

As 29 March moves ever closer, I began wondering what lessons could be taken from the way Brexit has been handled by our government, and how those lessons can be related to projects within regular businesses.

Here are five management and leadership recommendations for those handling a project focused on change.

Plan, plan, plan

The age old saying – failure to plan, is planning to fail. When addressing a project, especially one such as Brexit where change is the main focus, planning for every potential outcome is the key to success.

Often the planning stage of any project is based on a series of guesses and possibilities, as opposed to facts and figures, which is why looking at each outcome is a ‘must do’. Typically the least likely outcome could be where you end up, so if you don’t have your steps planned you will find yourself at a standstill.

Communicate effectively

Whether you are working in a team of 10 people or 100 people, making sure you communicate clearly, decisively and in a straightforward manner is vital. Messages can get confused as they are passed along the team, or even in a meeting, so returning to what you wanted to communicate from the start is a way of avoiding miscommunication.

If you present a project plan that is unfinished, missing elements or has not been fully researched, your professional image will likely be diminished. 

Create a list of major points you want to communicate, how those points can be achieved and when they must be achieved by, and then review with the team. Question and answer sessions are a great way of ensuring everyone is on the same page, and making sure you have effectively communicated your message.

Relating back to Brexit, the various parties have certainly lacked communication. As they are fighting against each other, time is quickly running out – don’t make the same mistake.

Time management

Do you think you will complete your project in two weeks? Double it. Always ensure you don’t stretch yourself too thin time-wise, and have enough time and manpower to complete the project to the highest possible standard.

Adding an extra few days or even a week enables you to check back over your research, recommendations and more before presenting it to either the leader of the project, the owner of the business or the client. If you present a project plan that is unfinished, missing elements or has not been fully researched, your professional image will likely be diminished.


With the deadline for Brexit set as 29 March has the Government left enough time to come up with a Plan B which will be acceptable to all? 

Be transparent

In today’s social media-heavy world, transparency is really the only choice. Those working on the project expect to be kept updated with any and all news relating to their work, and it is up to the leader to provide that information.

If they feel information is being kept from them, they will use other external methods to gain the information they want, which then places doubt on the skills of the leader. The project does not just belong to the leader, it belongs to the whole team – so keep discussions and transparent communication open.

Referring back to Brexit you have to ask if Mrs May has been as transparent about the process as she could have been with many believing there was the opportunity for a better deal from the EU. 


Evaluation isn’t just for the end of a project. As a leader you should constantly evaluate what has been done, what hasn’t been done and why that is. Do people need changing in the team, are they getting bored in their roles and working at a slower pace?

Check your original goals and the measures put into place to evaluate them – are you actively reaching the aims and goals set? Returning to transparency, make sure you keep your team updated with any and all evaluations undertaken in relation to the project.

You would have to ask if Mrs May and her team have evaluated their position as they have progressed. Having suffered the heaviest defeat in the House of Commons it would appear that she was either ‘bloody minded’ or she seriously believed she would win the vote having evaluated the position.


In conclusion, could a well thought-through and executed Brexit plan have been delivered by a team of fully qualified managers who were well versed in the various stages which had to be fulfilled? 


About the author

Stuart Cameron is managing director commercial operations at University Centre Quayside.


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