As David Cameron moves back into Number 10 he faces the prospect and perils of leading a new cabinet team of existing and new members and making it work for the country.

The challenges he faces are common to many British companies who, like Tesco, McDonalds and Standard Chartered, have recently undergone leadership changes.

So what are the risks and pitfalls of being a new leader and how can Cameron, as the Government’s new ‘CEO’, make sure his cabinet team performs?

  • Line Up Your Boris. It’s a wise move to identify your potential talent well even though you have just arrived in office. Boris Johnson is already rumoured to be lined up for a rapid coronation as leader of the Conservative Party after David Cameron stated his intention for his length of tenure. Failure to plan your succession has a chain reaction and a huge cost on the rest of your company or political party. It gives the competition ammunition, puts the trust in the leadership at risk when an external replacement is made at short notice. Our research shows that 45% of all replacements CEOs are external showing that proper leadership succession planning is still being done very poorly.
  • Take A Stance On The Ghosts Of Past Leaders.Tony Blair and John Major both made appearances in this election campaign. Every leader has to face the legacy of those who have gone before them. Take a clear stance on the position you take towards past leaders, repeat the differences between you and them and between the past and now. Resist the temptation to look back in time and assess the past and focus on your current and future plans.

  • Don’t Be Scared Of Letting Others Eat Bacon Sandwiches. Great leaders first assess their own shortcomings and then overcome their fears with frank, open and honest conversations with their teams. Be able to give yourself an honest appraisal of what may put your reputation at danger, then avoid the risk by building a team whose strengths complement your shortcomings.
  • Keep Your HSBC headquartered In Britain - Get Early Consultation On Big Decisions. Are you in Europe or not? New leaders are fragile in the spotlight with great expectations on them to announce big decisions and changes. In the early days it is vital to keep your leadership intact by having clear and certain intentions from the outset, then knowing who to get on side and not getting carried away with big announcements that may later backfire.
  • Discover Your ♯EdBallsDay Twitter Talent Early And Develop It. Take time to know the talents, aspirations and personalities in your team because the world will come to know them rapidly. Transparency is a contemporary quality in any successful team in a public, digital and connected world. Understanding how your colleagues may handle a public mis-tweet will give you confidence in the team’s individual and collective ability. Have a rigorous development programme for the new cabinet, making sure you are building a team for the future, not for the present, even if that means putting them through training for Twitter!
  • Find Failure Fast. Look for a potential Chris Huhne, John Profumo or Jeffrey Archer. Taking office and forming a new cabinet is a time full of promise and potential and it is easy to overlook weaknesses or risks. Find failure fast, assess your existing members and help your team understand the new rules of the game. When a new CEO is appointed, involuntary attrition is 26%. Don’t let longevity be the reason someone is in – base the decision on performance.
  • Find More Russell Brands. Better engagement leads to stronger performance. Actively encourage each team member to engage with those outside the internal cabinet and government and with those who may not be immediately obvious. They and the team will learn new perspectives, their performance will be better, innovation levels will rise and learning will continue.

Like any incoming CEO, Cameron has huge challenges ahead to win the hearts and minds of his people. He's leading a nation, not a corporate but the need to understand your team, and to know how to find and keep the best talent, are the same for any business.

After the Cabinet re-shuffle today, we at Armstrong Craven will be watching with interest as MPs return to Westminster.

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