In a Senior Leadership training session last year, I was asked a question which has played on my mind a lot recently: what do you want the people in your team to say about you?
This was a tricky one; I’d love people to say that I was fair, kind, a person who led by example and who was supportive and caring – but it just didn’t cut it. It didn’t seem very ‘me’. Don’t get me wrong, all those things would be lovely to hear (and are hopefully true!) – but it’s the equivalent of hearing ‘nice’ in a focus group or reading ‘well liked’ in a school report: it’s generic. It’s ‘beige’. It’s just another well rounded manager in a company…
What I settled on was this: She helped me to achieve things which I never even imagined were possible.
That’s it; that sums it up. It’s not actually what I want them to say about me – it’s what I want them to feel about themselves. What I want from the Blue Yonder team, from my colleagues and my clients is a feeling of pride, accomplishment – a sense that they have pushed themselves further that they had previously dared - to achieve great things they didn’t even know that they were capable of achieving.
It’s this type of leadership which keeps things fresh, which allows the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish, which sees us creating new methodologies which meet needs better than ever before: it’s asking ‘why not?’, instead of simply just ‘why’, and it’s about believing that there is always a way to achieve what you need to achieve – you may just need a little help along the way.
If you’ve seen Honda’s ‘Keep up’ advert where the words pop up on the screen at an increasingly fast pace, you’ll know what I mean. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO7BmPoL6a4 It’s always resonated with me strongly: going faster than you ever thought you could go, achieving things you never thought you could achieve. It’s a marketing masterpiece - inspirational, visionary and future facing. It sums up our approach to research at Blue Yonder, and also our approach to leadership.
Teams need support, they need nourishing and they need care…but they also need space to dream, to think and to find their own way of doing things – because, sometimes, it’s better than the way that things were being done. As a senior team, we are constantly delighted by research execs in the early stages of their careers coming up with innovative ways of doing things; they teach us as much as we teach them!
I remember being at Research Manager level, several years ago, and wondering if I dared suggest something completely different to a client; I went home and spoke to my mum, a Deputy Headteacher of a secondary school, and she responded with a hug (support always welcome!), a cup of tea (because that’s what mums do), and a ‘meme’ style card which featured a young girl with wings on her back. The caption read:
‘What if I fall?’
‘Oh, but my darling, what if you fly’?
I think I’ve bored the pants off the office with this quote by now, but it’s something I think we need to remember. It’s the ethos of Jonathan, our founder, and it runs throughout the company. It’s not about trying new for new’s sake, or being different for the hell of it – it’s about trying something else where you see the need. It’s about taking a challenge, and turning it into an opportunity – pushing yourself to create something spectacular and never been satisfied with ‘good enough’.
So, basically that’s it: that’s what I want to be remembered for: someone who helps people achieve great things…which brings me back to why it has been on my mind so much recently. It’s because we’re growing, we’re recruiting…and we’re looking for new people to inspire to fly!