JFA’s two Marketing Assistant Interns – Vienna Shelley and Gabriela Obiacoro from the University of York, interviewed me the other day, to explore “What inspires me as a leader?”. What a question! So, what does make me tick? What drives my leadership? Well, here goes.
Inspiration is an interesting word and can mean different yet similar things to people. For me, inspiration is about what makes my spirits soar, what invigorates me, energises me, gives me a sense of excitement. Which is very different to one’s ‘purpose’. That’s for another day!
In order to be an inspiring leader, its necessary to actually lead oneself first! So, I’d like to look first where I get my bounding energy from.
Everyone who knows me appreciates that on a personal level I love the outdoors, energised by great expanses of physical geography. I love mini adventures – even those on my doorstep, exploring Nature’s wonders. In fact, sat in the middle of Icelandic lava fields a few years ago made me realise what exactly made me ‘tick’, and this experience inspired me to move to the wilderness of the North Pennines last Christmas – thanks to the freedom offered by new ways of working from home.
I believe our personal experiences are vitally important to us all, as they manifest themselves in our leadership roles. My outdoor adventures energise me, maintain my positivity, create a passion for life that flows naturally into my professional world. They give me space to think creatively, time to explore alternative solutions to problems and offer a different perspective on business challenges.
They’re the foundation for my infectious enthusiasm in challenging the status quo – especially for my clients, moving leaders into their ‘swampy ground’, doing things ‘differently’ to improve people’s experiences – be they employers, employees, service users or our next generation … simply put, changing things for the better – even if deemed as ‘a little’ risky by others! But hey, sometimes you just have to be a bit of a pioneer, take a calculated risk to drive the organisation or partnership forwards.
I therefore take inspiration from ‘adventure’ into my leadership roles, using my natural curiosity, resilience and galvanising team spirit to push the boundaries, and navigate colleagues and clients through challenges, finding ways through often unchartered territories.
However, there is another factor that inspires me as a leader and that is caring about people. Having experienced the negative impact of leadership that reflects little care for individuals, this drives me on to ensure that all people at whatever level within an organisation feel valued and can see the positive part they play in helping meet the organisation’s mission and vision.
How you act, what you say, how you treat people has a massive influence on how colleagues believe in you and follow you. And, whether its meeting targets or improving growth and profit margins – ultimately, people are the crux to all of these outcomes, so showing that you care and interested in your people is a vital ingredient in my book. Everyone is a key cog in the organisational machine and should be respected as such. Engaging and empowering people-centric approaches are therefore at the heart of what I do.3rd August 2021