After an impressive career in the pharmaceutical industry you decided to build your own business. What drove you to this decision?
I was always a leader that loved both leadership of the business as well as the people. I had and have a fundamental belief that investing time in the people would always bring the business return. As my career progressed, I was moving away more and more from what brought me joy - such things as building the vision, growing a positive culture and daring to try in new and innovative ways . Life became more and more focussed on P+L scrutiny due the business I was in. Though I learned to excel here it didn't bring me the long-term joy I craved.
I took the time out to really think about what were the essential ingredients that I needed in my life to ensure meaning and intentionality. From there, together with my husband, I devised several options and routes forward. Out of this came two companies that I now run. Escentia Ltd to enable leaders and teams to lead with intention and Jubenesence Ltd., which I run with my husband, to enable people to live with intention.
We have one life, so its important that we make it a rich one and it is important that that we are intentional about how that life might unfold. Things don't just happen!
In your experience, what makes a good leader? Are there some common ‘ingredients’?
For me a leader does three things:
They inspire with intentionality so that all voices (types of people) hear, feel and see the journey ahead and want to be part of the journey.
They enable and develop new leaders so that people continue the journey long after they have gone.
They enable a learning culture where people experiment try, and sometimes fail but ultimately grow from the mistakes they make.
What is the most difficult thing in leadership development?
In Escentia I talk about the 6Cs that I learned along the way:
Clarity, Courage, Congruence, Connection, Coherence and Compassion.
To become really honest and clear about oneself it takes courage and to be congruent takes commitment. It isn't easy but it is necessary!! A lot of my executive coaching starts here.
Did you see a change in leadership capability needs during COVID with people working more remotely and potentially under higher uncertainty?
Yes, that is where my 4th, 5th and 6th Cs come into play. In these times Connection, Compassion and Coherence are essential and are often not prioritised. Much of current working days, has been spent running workshops on the topic of Connection and Coherence and how we must take care of ourselves as leaders in these uncertain times and take are of our teams. Boudaries have been lost and it is essential we rebuild them. If we are leading, we cannot overlook these areas.
What are the top 1 – 2 books on leadership you would recommend?
Rob Parsons “The Heart of Success”: important we always have our ladder against the right wall and so many don't.
Tony Schwartz “The way we are working isn't working”: It isn't and people need to intentionally change. Part of my purpose in life now is to help them.