I have been leading companies for 25 years – my earliest challenges were to rebuild a broken Porsche brand and then to inspire the team at BMW GB to achieve a 500% improvement in profit while transforming the service levels of an industry. Since then I have founded start-ups, driven turnarounds and built companies in numerous sectors. Our teams have won awards and been recognised as some of the best in the world. They have also created over GBP 3 billion in shareholder value.
Now that the immediate shock of the pandemic is receding, we need to lead our teams in a way which encourages agility and dynamic growth. My view is that people are incredible. Ordinary people, led well, can achieve extraordinary results. I believe that people can be inspired to stop chasing immediate rewards but rather think about building something that lasts, creating something of which they are proud. The principles and techniques of inspirational leadership are transferable. I help leaders and teams to deliver them:
1. High performance begins and ends with engagement. The leader’s role is to establish a clear vision of success. Everyone needs to understand what success will look like, what it will sound like and what it will feel like. What will it mean for the customer when we get there? Everyone in the team has a role to play so we give them the opportunity to get excited and engaged.
2. Challenges are opportunities for growth. Address the fear of change by discussing the new status we are striving for. Evaluate carefully the opportunities and the marketplace and deal only in facts. Get excited together by being enthusiastic about the freedom to make real and substantial change. Invite team members to move quickly.
3. Make it easy for the team to contribute. Build a clear, but simple, plan. Share it. Invite comments and ideas. Excite the high performers to become leaders at every level in the organisation. Be totally inclusive of talent and ideas – let people dream! Communicate the successes of individual’s ideas and improvements.
4. Praise first, challenge later. Provide regular feedback. Make heroes of the high performing teams by praising their approach to a challenge. A positive approach can be transferable to other areas. Leadership is about creating a positive culture and letting the team run. It is not the end of the world if it goes wrong.
5. Recognise that people are amazing. Leading teams to high performance is about creating the belief that ideas and challenge are progress. Set a positive example, be approachable, consistent, and make champions visible. Positive belief is an energy which transfers to others.