I’ve been privileged to work with some incredible leaders, and each has contributed in some way. Christy Leith took a chance on me when I joined her ‘young guns’ sales team at TDI Outdoors. She had relocated to London from LA and was key in redefining the sales culture. I learned the value of hard work but how to have fun. Her bar was set high. Her demands for a daily 08:30 start, professional dress code and no lunchtime drinking were out of kilter with the rest of the industry at the time. But this approach was underpinned by good training and a solid sales process that created great results. Quickly other teams were jealous of our success and once these good disciplines meant we were all earning well, we were unstoppable.
What are you most proud of professionally?
I’m most proud of the people I have taken with me and the teams I have created. Seeing others thrive and achieve career success makes me proud.
If you could appoint anyone (alive, dead, fictional or real) to join your leadership team who would it be and why?
Anthony Robbins. A great business coach, with compassion and enormous positive energy. He would be a great addition to any leadership team.
How important is it to be empathetic as a leader?
Empathy is very important. You need to understand that people make mistakes. If you show vulnerability as a leader you create a culture where people will take risks and grow themselves. As a leader you need confidence not to micro- manage but also be firm when needed. Overall an empathetic leader will build trust.
How do you continue learning when you’re ‘top of the pile’?
By not being afraid to ask for help. I surround myself with people who I can learn from, as coaches or mentors. With a growth mindset you have to take input from a range of sources- podcasts, research and friends. I believe the best way to learn is from your mistakes and it’s important to let others do the same. I complete a 360 review with colleagues and friends – just 3 questions to understand “what I’m doing well, what I’m not doing well and what could be better”. Seeking out sometimes brutal feedback, gives me an enormous learning opportunity.
What are the 3 most important things (values or behaviours) you look for when hiring?
A great leader will hire a team with the aim of making themselves redundant. Most people ‘can’ do a job, but I look for people who will step outside their comfort zone, are open to learning, and don’t think they know it all! It is important to drive diversity and broaden the net when hiring. I like people who will challenge the norm and ask questions.
What advice would you share with your 18 year old self?
Trust your gut. Be confident in your decisions. Show compassion. Live life to the full – there is no sequel!
What do you believe will be the biggest disruptor to the world of work in the next 5 years?
The environmental agenda. Awareness of our footprint and the limit of fossil fuels is at an all time high. I believe this is going to impact the way we work, both in creating new jobs (think Amazon changing their packaging and Apples development of a ‘greener’ iPhone) and changing attitudes to business travel. Renewable energy is going to be key and it will be interesting to see what businesses like Google do with their offer of free food for all employees, in terms of the impact of transporting the food, and demand for plant based diets.