11.12.2023 22:02:59
14.12.2022Leadership Development

What the Downfall of Boris Johnson Teaches Us

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When Boris Johnson officially stepped down as Prime Minister on 6th September 2022, most political pundits and some of the Conservative Party wondered whether he would be out of the political limelight for long.

However, the rapid demise of his successor, Liz Truss, had some of his supporters urging him to come back sooner than expected – not from his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip but his holiday in the Caribbean – to take back the reins of power.

Ultimately Johnson decided not to run again in the Tory leadership race. Whilst he had the support of cabinet ministers including (ex) Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg and remained popular with some Tory members, many MPs were divided about his legacy and worried that returning him to office would revive all the scandals that brought him down. In a statement from him explaining his reasons for not running he said it “would simply not be the right thing to do” to mount a bid because it would divide his party.

And that is one of many reasons he remains a Marmite figure. There is no denying his political journey has been one of the most extraordinary of modern times.

He would argue he left office having never lost a national election. He delivered his party a landslide 80 seat majority. He got Brexit ‘done’ (ish). And he oversaw the successful rollout of the UK’s vaccine programme.

But his time as leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister didn’t end well. The very traits that got him the top job proved woefully at odds with doing that job effectively. He found that you cannot be mired in bad headlines for months on end and carry on as if ‘there’s nothing to worry about’.

Ultimately it was the way Johnson ran his government, his famously loose relationship with the facts and the demise of his USP – popularity with the voters – that proved his undoing. Once trust had evaporated, it was only a matter of time.

Back in April we looked at what can be learnt from his leadership style because at that time he was still surviving controversy and had been in power for over three years.

Read > What can we learn from Boris Johnson’s Leadership?

We dissected his larger-than-life leadership style and looked at what could be learnt from it.

As a leader he appealed because of the following:

  • His emotional connection
  • His authenticity
  • His ability to give a narrative

But his downfall, as we predicted, came down to trust. Much of what has befallen Johnson in the latter half of this year was of his own making. Johnson is an intelligent man so deep down he will know that. However publicly he has never admitted that. There have been no apologies, no regrets, and no admittance of failure. The closest he’s got is his acknowledgement that he divides opinions.
Ultimately as a leader he was held accountable for his actions, and this is what led to his exit.

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