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Never waste a good crisis

So after a period of unprecedented turmoil the new boss arrives in a blaze of glory to restore order.

But with that comes the almost inevitable shake-out of the upper echelons of the old management as a shiny new team is formed.

High flying careers that looked set to shoot to the stars are suddenly shot out of the sky and plummet back down to Earth in flames. Those once contemplating promotion are instead reconsidering their futures.

We’ve seen a lot of it recently – in Westminster – as the fall-out and Machiavellian shenanigans from the post-Brexit vote has left more bodies littering Britain’s political stage than the final scene of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Recent events have certainly reinforced the maxim that a week can be a long time in politics. Even an hour and a minute has seemed long-term at times.

And events surrounding the arrival of new Prime Minister Theresa May have spelled significant and sudden career changes for the likes of her predecessor David Cameron, former Chancellor George Osborne, Justice Secretary Michael Gove and any number of ministers and their senior advisers who are now ‘seeking new challenges’. Politics is a brutal business. But their predicament mirrors that of many high-flying senior executives in the automotive industry and beyond who, on a twist of fate or a toss of the corporate coin, can suddenly find themselves having to take a new path.

It can be frightening and disconcerting. You, like the axed politicians, will go through the whole gamut of emotions. Why me? Why now? You may feel a degree of panic. Grief. Sadness. Upset. And anger. You are in uncharted territory.

And you’ll certainly get to know who your friends are. Who will continue to take your calls? Who will drop you like a stone, treat you like a bad smell, or be unavoidably busy whenever you appear? One minute they are all over you like the proverbial rash wanting your business. But out of post, your usefulness, it appears, has waned.

Mrs May also hit the nail on the head in her first speech as PM, pointing out that even those who have a job - out in the real world and well beyond the confines of Westminster - feel uncertain how long it will last in the current climate.

Those who have risen steadily through the ranks to senior posts may find it hardest of all to get going again. Years may have gone by without them ever having to really compete for the next rung up the greasy poll. There may even be a degree of latent arrogance. ‘Don’t they know who I am?’ Well they did. But not any more. As David Cameron himself quipped in his final speech as PM in the House of Commons: ‘I was the future once.’ But you have to channel your energy to get yourself back on track. Clearly, you need time to digest what has happened to you. Easier said than done and it varies from person to person – from a week to a month or a year. But it is vital. Take stock of what you want to do. It will mean a lot of sober soul searching. Take advantage of any support that is going from your previous employer. Make it work for you. Preparing your CV is a task in itself but crucial.

Be honest. Your disappointment will show on your face at interview, so don’t try to dress it up or cover it up. And above all, do not give up. You will have to draw on reserves of strength you perhaps did not know you had – or never thought you’d have to exploit.

Surround yourself with your true friends and people you can rely on. If you have a bad day, stay close to people who know you and can keep you chipper. These are tough but good lessons for life. And here’s another that may stand you in good stead. When it comes to really cracking on with change, take a leaf from wily politicians and never waste a good crisis.

by Lynda Ennis

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