Effective leadership is about sharing the passion, belief, positivity, honest intentions and inspirational aspirations with not only your high performers but everyone in your workforce.
It’s not surprising that this event prompted the most feedback comments of any recent event. With Bob Keiller and Keith Wight speaking, the attendees were overwhelmed with advice, tips, takeaways and immediate implementations at the office.
For Richard Dixon of Vets Now, it was one of the best he has ever attended. Richard says he never leaves a focus dinner without feeling invigorated and having picked up a few nuggets. This occasion was no different. Both speakers were open, honest, frank and told it “warts and all”.
Says Richard: “This isn’t ‘management book’ stuff, it was real life experiences from people who have done it and are still doing it.
“For me, one of the main takeaways was the importance of dealing with the difficult stuff face to face. In short, ‘man up’ and just be honest, open and fair. It gives the best chance of turning even difficult scenarios into positive experiences.”
He added:”I’ve already managed to put some of this into practice back at Vets Now and it worked an absolute treat. It’s not possible to put a value on that kind of advice and support.
David Frame, MD Barum and Dewar Ltd, agreed. David took copious notes, on communications, leadership and change.
Communications must be open and honest, it’s the only way to gain respect. They should be ace to face when dealing with difficult issues and should be regular and consistent.
Leadership is not a democracy, so to lead you must be prepared to make decisions that the business needs not just because they are universally popular. The real world can be very different from that portrayed in management books so don’t ignore common sense, things that have worked in the past or gut instinct. It’s important to have a few trusted mentors around you and use them as sounding boards
To manage change it’s key to break it down to baby steps to keep everyone onside and avoid adverse reactions as a result of fear of change. You should ask “why?” again and again when new proposals are presented – if there’s no clear reason, then don’t do it. And make sure you understand the real issue, not just the one initially presented.
David said:”Like a lot of those who attended I felt that I already did much of that, and both speakers indicated that that would be the case, so the first thing I took away was that a good part of my leadership style was in the right place. But I want to implement several new things.
“I’m going to seek a mentor/coach, start asking “why?” to every new decision (this will be interesting!) and try to listen more to pick up on some of the good feedback I may be missing.
“I’m also going to make diarised time for face to face communication, to meet with colleagues and listen. And I’m doing it this week. No agenda, but spending time at our offices just being around to see what is going on and how people feel.
“I want to improve my effectiveness as the leader of our businesses, because ultimately that should impact upon our growth and success.”
For Alastair Balfour of Company Creators the message was that the lessons for leadership were the same, whether in a company of 20 or 40,000. With people, it’s essential to keep it simple and always sit down with them to understand their feelings and issues. You need to show them respect, and help them to feel good about themselves.
Different people need different styles of management, so while it’s fine to have sceptics in the team, it is not fine to have cynics. You need to get rid of them, as they will drag everyone else down.
Alastair also focused on the measurement of activity; new business win rate, the loss rate of pitches, this month’s revenue v last year’s month.
“What gets measured, gets done,” he said. “And while you should have a plan, be prepared to change it on a regular basis. Shake things about, people need to know the leader is serious and is prepared to take action if things are not working.”
Feedback from other attendees was equally positive;
• 2 pages of top tips which, judging by the experience of both the speakers and the group, are well tested in market! I will be distilling these to top 10 tips and seeding these back to my team – looking forward to a positive response!
• Test the message delivered to ensure it’s the one that you intended. Do face to face communication with the work force not memos.
• My most important tip was to lead & instil change in baby steps.
• Key tips – Communication – face to face – cannot be beaten. Make sure your strategy is clear and the business as a whole knows about it. Take time to know what to spend your time on. Too easy to fritter away time on things that may be interesting to you personally but are not necessarily the best thing for the business
• Key leadership points & “must haves”: Get the right people, personal touch and face to face much more effective, respect your workforce at every level, give credit openly, honesty, forward looking, competence, inspire, business is not a democracy!
• Key tips for me – basically, Bob Keiller’s management principles, of which I listed 10. Probably too many to set down here….
• My key tips – communicate honestly, more often and face to face – messages get lost when written – provide clarity of goals – be prepared to change the plan – get the right people involved in the right projects, not the popular ones – make your office open plan – don’t waste a good crisis, use the opportunity for change.
You can read the rest of the feedback from this event here.