Porsche or Jaguar: what’s your leadership journey?

April 28, 2021
Leadership journey

As lockdown restrictions ease, there is an emerging energy in the air. Beyond the smell of barbeques and pints being sipped outdoors, excitement is also brewing for business. According to research published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the UK market is showing revitalisation, with 56% of businesses surveyed stating they are planning to hire in 2021.

Change is imminent, with many sectors looking to face a period of rapid change and growth. Traction can now already be felt in a range of industries, including healthcare, finance, insurance, education and information and communications

Are you ready for this change?

Pedal to the metal

Change can leave business leaders scrambling to put their foot down hard on the accelerator; there’s not a moment to waste, to stop and catch your breath.

We’ve been in limbo for the past year and it’s time to get back to business and make a healthy impact on our bottom line. It’s commendable to be aggressively pushing forward to grow, expand and strike whilst the iron is hot. There’s no time to stop … or is there?

History has taught us that poor choices around leadership can equate to disaster.

As a business leader, you probably enjoy the speed of a Porsche; it’s comfortable, looks sexy and gets you where you need to be…FAST. There’s something dangerously provocative about the exhilaration in getting to your destination, running full steam ahead.

However, this journey can be risky. Opening up that powerful engine leaves less reaction time if there’s an obstruction in the road.

As a leader, the current climate has probably got you feeling inspired to put your foot down and push forward at speed in a bid to make as many sales as possible which, if the CIPD stats are anything to go by, means you’ll need to add to your teams to make this happen.

We recruit for the future, not the past. Businesses have been destroyed by poor leadership. The opposite is true too, however; businesses can be completely turned around by a reinvigorated leadership team.

Taking their time and tearing down silos: Pick n Pay

Richard Brasher joined Tesco in 1986 after beginning his career in FMCG at Unilever. He was tasked with filling rather large shoes after John Gildersleeve’s departure by becoming Commercial Director. Richard went on to become UK & Ireland CEO, and, after 26 fruitful years of dedication at Tesco, he took on a new challenge – the emerging market, Africa.

Appointed as CEO in 2012 for national retailer Pick n Pay, Richard’s task was not an easy one. Pick n Pay was struggling, with off the record mutterings in the corridor leading one to believe this was the result of poor leadership. With a very low operating margin and profits which had almost halved, Richard set forth to reignite a sense of ambition in Pick n Pay.

Richard certainly has a lot to be proud of.  Notwithstanding Covid-19, Pick n Pay’s sales have doubled, and its profitability has tripled since he became CEO, with the company turning almost £3 billion to date.

Today, Pick n Pay is a slick, fully-centralised operation, with a strong online presence. Brasher tore down the siloes that existed and looked to not only develop the talent internally but bring in external talent as well.

Time to change cars?

The board of Pick n Pay thought outside of the box (and their own continent) when recruiting Brasher as a leader; they traded in their hypothetical Porsche and shifted their perspective by embarking on a more strategic journey, similar to stepping into an all-electric Jaguar I-PACE. Electric is the car for the future, far more economical, kind to the environment, comfortable and just as fast as a Porsche.

Taking the time to rethink your route, top speed and approach leads to a greater injection of innovation, creativity and more efficient tactics.

But, you ask, surely the time it takes to recharge your electric vehicle is far longer than the fuel-guzzling sports car? Perhaps that’s the point? Taking the time to rethink your route, top speed and approach leads to a greater injection of innovation, creativity and more efficient tactics.

You wouldn’t let someone drive your prized car if they weren’t competent behind the wheel; although you may agree that not all drivers are the same, some exhibit considerably more skill than others when it comes to getting into the driver’s seat.

You probably already have the intelligence in your business, but do you have the right driver in the driving seat? Does your journey comprise of the right mix of passengers?

You may nominate the individual who exhibits exceptional levels of alertness, mechanical skills, responsibility, experience, patience and self-discipline to be charged with driving.

However, someone else in the team may be far better equipped to sit with the map and plot the most scenic route, whereas somebody else may assume the perfect persona for injecting enthusiasm, joy and excitement into the actual ride.

Let’s journey together

Here at Blackmore Four, we take the Jaguar approach. Your business strategy aligned to the choice of your leadership team is the engine of your business, and no one wants to suffer engine failure as we pivot into a flurry of economic opportunity.

Let’s take a look at the core of your business and have some tough conversations:

  • Do your leaders live out your business values?
  • Does your talent believe in your strategic narrative?
  • Do you have the most capable leader at the forefront?

Your organisation can create a new product and it’s easily copied. Lower your prices and competitors will follow. Go after a lucrative market and someone is right after you, careful to avoid making your initial mistakes.

Replicating a high-quality, highly-engaged workforce that is led by superior leadership is nearly impossible. Human capital today is really the only true competitive advantage an organisation can possess.

We are here to support you to succeed and thrive during this time of change.

We utlilise scientific tools and methods married with innovation to ensure that you are equipped for growth. Our ambition is to demonstrate high-impact results facilitated through a people-centric solution.

Let’s connect online, or in the office (at a healthy distance) for an informal chat about taking your business on a journey of superior performance, underpinned by a robust strategy.

“You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality” 
Walt Disney