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How coaching solved Brexit

Discover how coaching could have solved Brexit.

– 5 mins read –

What if Mrs May had used a coaching approach and collaborated from the start?

This comic sketch shows how it’s possible to set up a partnering approach to enable optimal outcomes in even the trickiest of situations. Using a coaching leadership style creates a high-performance culture of collaboration – one that enables leaders and managers to break down silos to deliver the optimal outcomes for the business.


“Hi Jeremy”.


Jeremy took a seat opposite Theresa in her office at Number 10 Downing Street. The atmosphere was cold in contrast to the warm sunshine outside.

“Thank you for coming so early Jeremy”, Theresa stood up to shake Jeremy’s hand and positioned herself next to him. Jeremy did his best not to look uncomfortable despite the novelty of the meeting.

“That’s quite alright”, he mumbled, curious to know what game the Prime Minister was playing.

Sensing his mistrust, Theresa tried to reassure him.

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“I know we’ve had our differences”, she acknowledged, “but I would like us to put them behind us for the good of the country”.

Jeremy Corbyn straightened indignantly. “Of course”, he replied.

“Before we get down to business, can I offer you a cup of tea?”

“No, thank you”.

“I wanted first to let you know that we’re planning to trigger Article 50 in March next year. And, as you know, we’ll then have 2 years to agree the terms of our split with the EU”.

Jeremy nodded.

“I also want to make sure we start to really understand each other’s goals for the Brexit process and beyond. Even if we don’t agree all the time, I believe we both want what’s best for Britain and its people”, Theresa May said, leaning forward.

“Of course”, Corbyn said again, still feeling slightly off guard.

“So, could we start by agreeing how we approach these discussions in a collaborative fashion? I think we’re destined to have a few over the next two years”, she smiled. “What do you need from me in order to feel like you’ve been represented in the negotiations?”

Jeremy Corbyn sat rigidly, this was too strange. It felt like some kind of set-up but, in the absence of an immediate strategy, he decided to play along for now.

“For starters, I think we should have a continuous open dialogue”, he thought for a moment, “and some way you can show you are bringing my party’s perspective to the European Commission without distorting its meaning”.

Theresa nodded slowly, “what else?”

“I want to be the first to see any draft documents. And an opportunity to draft our own amendments”.

“This seems reasonable as long as they are kept private until they’re ready for circulation… ah the tea”. A smartly dressed young man entered the room carrying a silver tea tray. “Just set it down here, thank you”. Theresa May said.

“Anything else Jeremy?”

“No, not that I can think of right now. You caught me a little unprepared”.

“I apologize. You see I had a bit of an epiphany last night”. Theresa May poured herself a cup. “You sure I can’t interest you?”

“Okay, I will have one”, Jeremy replied.

“I realized that even though this isn’t what I personally wanted for the country”, Theresa continued, “the best way to negotiate an orderly exit from the EU will be to design our negotiation process and agree some common goals between all our major party leaders upfront”.

“I couldn’t agree more”, Jeremy said as he sipped his tea. “It’s what I’ve said all along”.

Theresa May smiled, “I’m glad. And if we’re going to make a good fist of this, each team’s goals and concerns need to be heard and understood by all the teams. After all, other than ‘out’, we don’t have much to go on in terms of what the public really wants”.

“What about 350 million pounds to the NHS?” Jeremy said indignantly.

Then in unison, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn guffawed. Tea went everywhere, and it took some time for them to stop giggling like two school children.

Later they would both look back on this meeting as the start of a mutually respectful relationship. Although Theresa refused many of the Opposition Party’s demands for the terms of Brexit, Jeremy felt he and his party had been heard and recognized that Theresa held on to the principles they had agreed at the outset. It wasn’t an easy road, but by setting boundaries and communicating openly, the process was made much smoother.

After all, nobody wanted to find themselves staring into the abyss of leaving without a deal.*

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