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September 29, 2022updated 24 Oct 2022 2:07pm

Ten pieces of advice for Liz Truss

By Spear's

Liz Truss has an enormous task on her hands in Downing Street – so we asked experts who help out high-flying clients what wisdom they would pass on to the new PM

  1. Communicate the vision

    ‘To lead a team, you need to be able to articulate why you are there and collate data to build a coherent vision that you truly believe in,’ says Helena Territt, executive coach and founder of Hatched Coaching. ‘Liz Truss must communicate this vision authentically and with integrity if she expects her Cabinet and other colleagues to follow it. Her team is her biggest asset, so she needs to trust them to deliver; micromanagement is a sure path to burnout. ‘Finally, as a leader, it’s essential to support yourself. It’s lonely at the top and you’re only human. An executive coach can provide a confidential space for people to reflect, and to be supported and challenged on the things you can’t discuss with your peers or your team.’

  2. Work with the King

    It would be really powerful if she was able to communicate well with Charles III and build a symbiotic relationship,’ says David McDonough, whose firm Sanctuary Counsel advises corporations, officials and UHNWs. ‘One’s starting a new reign and the other’s starting a new government. I also think they’d have a lot to say to each other about apprenticeships, traineeships and bringing on a young, disadvantaged section of the population.

  3. Slash red tape

    There are three easy economic wins on the table, says Rupert Phelps, strategic adviser to single family offices. ‘First, she can stimulate demand by scrapping the plan to raise National Insurance contributions while also reducing VAT by at least 5 per cent from its current rate of 20 per cent. Second, she can rejuvenate London’s economy by cutting the red tape strangling its public markets. Companies need a clear route to listing and the prime minister needs to take the opportunity to breathe new life into British IPOs. ‘Third, as someone dedicated to advising family businesses, I think it’s essential that our chancellor retains the elements of business property relief that support the continuity of family businesses and their vital role in communities.

  4. Raise personal allowances

    ‘Liz Truss does not have a lot of time and she will have one eye on the general election in 18 months’ time,’ notes Nimesh Shah, CEO of accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg. ‘Tax cuts will remain at the top of the agenda in a bid to secure votes – the reversal of the 1.25 per cent National Insurance increase and cancelling the planned rise to corporation tax are done deals. However, there is an interesting opportunity for Truss to raise the personal tax allowances and thresholds in line with inflation, which Rishi Sunak decided to freeze until April 2026 in his 2021 Budget. It’s not a direct tax cut and many will see benefits during the cost of living.’

  5. No compromise

    ‘There are three dimensions to managing stress in a position such as hers,’ says executive, life and business coach Angela Cox. ‘First, she must work hard on depersonalising the judgement on her decisions, reframing any negative thoughts, and self-validating her strengths and attributes. Second, she mustn’t compromise her personal values. This is one of the biggest sources of stress my executive clients face, as it diminishes self-esteem and leads to self-sabotaging behaviour and ultimately guilt. Getting trapped in these cycles diminishes effectiveness and builds stress. ‘Finally, she’s under significant pressure to reach the bar set by successful prime ministers, but this mustn’t drift into pretending to be them, because pretending is exhausting. Burnout often follows.’

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  6. Beware of the ‘Streisand Effect’

    For politicians, reputation protection is primarily about getting the political narrative right,’ advises David Engels, partner and reputation lawyer at Addleshaw Goddard. ‘Politicians therefore need to think carefully before threatening libel proceedings. When Nadhim Zahawi instructed lawyers to have a blogger retract allegations that the ex-chancellor was using an offshore trust to avoid capital gains tax the spat blew up and drew more public attention – the so-called “Streisand effect”. ‘If the PM finds her family’s privacy is at risk, however, a lawyer can help. JK Rowling showed us that the British courts are very willing to protect the privacy of the family of public figures; the press was prohibited from printing pictures of her young son.’

  7. Feel the love

    Truss’s marriage has recovered since her 18-month affair with Conservative MP Mark Field in 2004-05 came to light, but how can she maintain healthy relationships in such a high-pressure job? ‘When the pressure is on, personal relationships can fall by the wayside,’ says leading family lawyer Ayesha Vardag. ‘People become snappy, cold or just absent, wrapped up in their own stress. You have to try to stay close to your partner even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you can talk things through with them, or maybe you can have comfort in physical contact. ‘Most people respond well to being needed and feeling that in some way they’re included. It’s horrible to feel you’re out in the cold. You have to keep your partner on side and let them give you the love and care you need. Make their support part of the solution. Otherwise, when the panic is over, you may look around and find they’ve moved on.’

  8. Discretion is the better part

    The narrative is that the government is smartening up, notes Richard Angel, CEO and co-founder of design house Angel O’Donnell. But it’s doubtful whether this ethos should extend to the Number 10 flat – especially given the furore caused by the previous residents’ approach to home improvements. ‘As we hurtle deeper into a cost-of-living crisis, the last thing Liz Truss should do is splash out on new furniture,’ says Angel. ‘She doesn’t need a repeat of “Wallpapergate”, with that £850-a-roll goldleaf wallpaper from Lulu Lytle. If the new PM wants to give her new apartment a lift, she can always move in some of her own possessions… a British cheeseboard, perhaps?’

  9. Get real

    Gaffs made earlier in her career (‘That. Is. A. Dis-grace’) have given Truss a reputation as a poor speaker. But all is not lost, says Simon Lancaster, whose TEDx talk ‘Speak Like a Leader’ has gained more than 3 million views. ‘Liz Truss will have all sorts of people telling her how she should speak, but first and foremost she should trust herself and her own instincts,’ he says. ‘Authenticity is any leader’s greatest strength and prime ministers trade this at their peril. Truss has looked at her best in PMQs when she was speaking spontaneously – no notes, no coaches, thinking fast, talking fast, looking passionate, ideological and natural. As Shakespeare wrote ‘to thine own self be true’. The new PM’s motto could well be ‘to thine own self be Truss’. (Simon Lancaster is the founder of speechwriting agency Bespoke. His new book, Connect, is published by Bonnier.)

  10. Honest is the best policy

    Every PM writes their own draft of history when they publish their memoirs as their Number 10 tenure comes to a close. It’s also a chance to kick-start a lucrative career after leaving once. ‘But if Liz Truss wants Boris or Barack-level advances she will need to be incredibly honest,’ warns renowned ghostwriter Andrew Crofts. ‘Publishers don’t want politicians droning on about every other by-election – they want personal struggles and success stories. And Liz Truss has these. ‘She’s already admitted she isn’t as eloquent as someone like Boris or Gove, but that didn’t put her off going into politics. She’s a woman in public life who’s had personal stories written about her. It’s important she addresses these things honestly and truthfully, because you can guarantee a biographer like Sir Anthony Seldon will be looking at them.’

Words: Chris Hawes, Rasika Sittamparam, Rory Sachs & Aisha Alli
Illustrations: Claire Rollet

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