Ahead of next month’s elections to CMI’s board of trustees, I took the opportunity in our latest Better Managers Briefing to meet with four of the candidates: Stephen Pierce, deputy managing director and chief human resources officer at Hitachi Europe; Tamara Box, managing partner for Europe and the Middle East at legal firm Reed Smith; Cindy Rampersaud, senior vice-president of BTEC and apprenticeships at Pearson; and Teddy Nyahasha, chief executive of financial services firm OneFamily.
I asked them to tell us a little bit more about their thoughts on management and leadership and why they have decided to stand for election.
Watch our conversation and read the summary below.
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Stephen: “Great leaders look for a win-win”
Great leadership is a real differentiator in organisations and the very best organisations have great leaders, says Stephen. “One of my favourite books, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, talks about the importance of always aiming for a win-win. Great leaders look for a win-win. They don't look to get one over on other people. They look to find ways where both sides can take something away.”
Good leaders are also open and honest and act with integrity, says Stephen, who recalls how he was taught when joining Japanese giant Hitachi that right and wrong is more important than profit and loss. “That's why we're all standing for election, because not only do we want to continue to develop ourselves as leaders – we want to share, give back and help others do the same,” he says.
Covid-19 has not gone away, warns Stephen, who describes the leadership challenge of the next few months as balancing FOMO against FOTO – employees’ “fear of missing out” if they’re not in the office, versus their “fear of the office” and the remaining Covid-19 risks. “It's going to be important to move forward in a consultative way, to take people with us as we put a hybrid working model into place, while admitting that we haven't got all the answers, as this is uncharted territory.”
What does that mean about how and what is delivered through CMI? “We've seen in the last year how different lives can be, so we need to ensure that whatever level people are at in the CMI, that they are catered for by the services that are provided. It's a really tough ask, but we've got to ask those tough questions as we move out of Covid.”
Tamara: “Leaders are the culture and value carriers”
Leadership and management happens at all levels in an organisation and is everyone’s responsibility, says Tamara. “Leaders, whether at the top of an organisation or the smallest of teams, are the culture and value carriers,” she says. “They’re the folks who create the image that the organisation is trying to project. They're role models, responsible for showing how people can contribute to the organisation. They’re the people who ask the good questions and then make sure the people around them get the opportunity to contribute to the answers. Good leaders get the best out of their people.”
According to Tamara, the post-Covid challenge will be taking the silver linings from what we've learned and experienced over the last 18 months and building on them. “In my own firm, for example, we found that 98% of our workforce can do their jobs remotely and what we've learned is that the default or starting point with our people can be trust – and we only need to move to distrust if we have a bad experience,” she explains. “As a leader, start with an assumption that people are doing their jobs, they want to do a good job and they want to deliver for you.”
Teddy: “You get the best out of your people if you are open”
Teddy says his style of management and leadership is one where he sees himself as an enabler, building trust with the rest of the organisation and doing that through inclusion. “When we talk about inclusion, it's not just inclusion of the physical form. It's actually inclusion of thought,” says Teddy. “I've always believed that you get the best out of your people if you yourself are open to different ideas, knowing that you're not the bastion of all information.”
An accountant by background, Teddy recalls how leadership used to be based on knowledge or a technical skill set. “But the new world in which we operate requires leadership in every single part of the business, so the challenge now is being able and comfortable to be authentically yourself, because you can't ask everybody else to be authentic if you're not authentic.”
One blind spot leaders can have is failing to notice the power that exists in their own actions, argues Teddy. “So, for example, if your organisation is trying to embrace a more flexible way of working, you need to demonstrate your authenticity by embracing the same ways of working that you're asking the rest of the organisation to take on,” he says.
“Just two generations away from peasant farmers in Zimbabwe, I strongly believe in social mobility and the part CMI can play in creating the new leaders of a more inclusive society. Leaders are a force multiplier and we only need to influence a small group of leaders to have a big impact.”
Cindy: “Leadership is about empathy”
Leadership isn’t fixed but constantly evolving, says Cindy. “We're constantly learning and we've all learned from good leaders and bad leaders in our careers,” she says. “I learned the most from bad leaders because you learn how not to do it and the impact or the effect that they have. But in terms of philosophies, leadership is about empathy – for your customers, your teams, and peers – so that you can create a vision and a culture where people are able to be the very best that they can be and contribute and feel part of something that’s inclusive.”
As we move to a more flexible hybrid working model, built around trust, leaders will require a new leadership style, says Cindy. “It requires leaders throughout the organisation to flex and be more agile around how they tune in with their team,” she explains. “It's moving from being a manager and a supervisor to really being a leader. It's not one size fits all, it’s about what works for the individuals and the business.”
CMI should “build on what it does already so brilliantly,” says Cindy, “which is focusing on the importance of the human element in organisations – leadership, culture and inclusivity.”
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