10th Feb 2012

Who will be the next leader of Westminster City Council?

In January the leader of Westminster City Council, Colin Barrow – who had been at the centre of the West End parking charges row – resigned. His proposal to introduce weekend and night parking charges was universally unpopular, and faced steep opposition from local business, residents and workers – including restauranteurs, actors and clergymen. The High Court ruled in favour of the campaigners against the so-call ‘nightlife tax’, and the charges will now not be levied until after the Olympics at least. But the effects of this proposal are more lasting – the people of the West End lost some of the trust they put in their Council.

At this point in time the new leader of Westminster City Council has not yet been elected, but there is no doubt that his or her first 100 days in office will be challenging!

For any leader, the early days of a new role appointment are fraught with a heady mix of anxiety and anticipation. And there are a number of universal transition ‘givens’ which can be expected;

  1. a period of intense learning
  2. feeling overwhelmed by immediate ‘fire-fighting’
  3. difficulties on inheriting or building a team
  4. striking a balance between moving too fast and moving too slowly
  5. dealing with legacy issues from a predecessor
  6. building new networks and relationships

For the new leader of Westminster City Council number 5 and 6 above may be top of the list. He/she will want to mend relationships and win back the trust of the locals, while also considering and dealing with all of the other ‘givens’.

Great leadership is about strategy, people and results. To make an impact early and really accelerate performance the newly elected leader will need to identify a route to success, bring people with him/her and deliver results. The new role should be treated as a marathon – success in the now is wanted, but it is important also to set the tone for long-term success.

As the first 100 days of a new leadership role can be a chaotic and emotional time – with many distractions – at First100 we recommend drawing up a detailed first 100 days plan to guide you through. Clearly outlining key strategic priorities gives structure and focus.

Colin Barrow’s successor will be decided by the end of this month – we await the news with great interest.

Hilda Goold



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