You were a company commander at the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and were awarded with the Military Cross for your work in Iraq. How can you translate your leadership experience from the army to the MBA classroom?
My time commanding one hundred and fifty soldiers on a tour of Iraq in 2004, will remain one of the most formative and challenging experiences of my life. During an exceptionally high tempo of combat operations, leadership is the moral glue that binds a unit and its constituent companies together. This understanding of leadership in such circumstances has given me much cause for reflection on the nature of leadership, teams and high performance and how to help people to be their very best, no matter how intimidating the challenge.
I have translated the core of this experience in to my thoughts on organisational ethos and applied leadership and, in particular, Western’s Eco-Leadership which I bring to the MBA.
How would you describe your work in training that you do with companies? What is the biggest challenge that companies need to be aware of?
Much of work is developing leadership approaches and cultures that are aligned with organisation’s visions and strategy. Too often these elements are decoupled from, or are seen as separate to, the mainstream operations of companies and they reside in either HR or L&D. Helping organisations understand that leadership and culture are central to effective operations is where I spend much of my time.
In terms of leadership and followership, what skills are most needed to cope with the rapid pace of digital technology that is reshaping our business?
Increased situations awareness, adaptive organisations with agile teams and divergent approaches to generating options and decision-making. Decision-making authority delegated to the lowest possible levels with the resources to execute as well as a culture of shared leadership. Everyone to have a voice and the confidence to challenge both individuals and the organisation itself. Focus will need to be on identity and purpose, with innovation, collaboration and interdependence being the foundations of organisational culture. More flexible working with concepts such as Eco-Leadership framing the effects-led fluid forms of teams, which might alter on a weekly if not a daily basis.
Where do you find your inspiration?
In the everyday wonders of the world in which we live. I never tire of our wonderful planet and the incredible people I have been fortunate enough to encounter over the years.
I try to look for learning in every situation but much of my learning and reflection occurs when I am kayaking, climbing or on expedition.