Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president, stepped up his international rebranding exercise on Wednesday, telling a US TV network that his country had no intention of ever building nuclear weapons and insisting that he had the power to make a diplomatic deal over Iran’s nuclear programme. Essentially, he’s trying to bring Iran back onto friendly territory with the West, after years of escalating tensions which no doubt served his predecessor and his dogma well, but are perhaps no longer good for anyone.
Whatever his motives, Rouhani’s attempts to improve relations with the west, and in particular with America, will no doubt be met with a better reception than if previous president, Ahmedinejad, had himself reached out.
Whilst these events of course are on the international stage, I think the Rouhani’s leadership is comparable, in a business environment, to new management. Sometimes decision makers and leaders are constrained by decisions of the past; Presidents and Prime Ministers last only a certain amount of time because as they go along they make more and more enemies and gradually close doors. Now I’m not saying as a leader you have to do that, but it needs to be recognised that having a ‘fresh start’ isn’t merely a token – often new people in management positions can do things their predecessors can’t, not because their predecessors weren’t as good, but they needed to maintain consistency in their decisions. There’s a far greater acceptance of new directions to be followed if they’re from a new person.
So perhaps what we can learn from the situation in Iran, is that sometimes its important to get fresh leadership, even if that leadership is of the same skillset, and that rotation of talent is important in keeping an organisation fresh and a workforce motivated and inspired.