Institute of Directors Annual Convention 11 May 2011

As busy people we made a decision to take a day out of client and company work to attend the IoD Annual Convention to see what key messages would help us to follow Stephen Covey's principles and "sharpen the saw" as Company Directors. There was an impressive line up of speakers ranging from Entrepreneurs such as Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer with some sage experienced and successful heads like Lord MacLaurin and David Gold.

Much has been produced over the last few days about the newsworthy messages from a range of the speakers, see here for the IoD’s summary. What we would like to share with you is our summary of the day grouped into the insights that resonated with us. Whilst these may not be rocket science (although there was some of that from Richard Noble OBE) the points illustrate how the speakers created their success in applying what we possibly all know at a logical level. Their success as leaders came through living their core beliefs and displaying them through their behaviour.

Have clear unequivocal vision and focus

  • Know where your light is, where you want to be and move forward. (Lord MacLaurin, former CEO of Tesco and Chairman of Vodafone)
  • I was allowed to focus on just one thing. I was an athlete 24/7, it was an all consuming passion. The focus was on the excellence of the process, focus on the process and let the result take care of itself. (Jonathon Edwards CBE, London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games)
  • The driving force was away from deprivation. I would do anything not to go back to that. (David Gold, Chairman of Gold Group)
  • Have a dream and the courage to follow it. Aged 11, I decided to own a farm. I had to keep that promise to myself. (Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, founder of The Black Farmer)
  • Focus on the long term goal. Don’t stress about the little things. (Jude Ower, founder of The Play Mob)

Put the customer at the centre of everything

  • All our best ideas and changes, like Clubcard, came from the customer. (Lord MacLaurin)
  • Follow customer trends, we do innovate but we also recognise what we are loved for by our customers. (Jill McDonald, CEO and President, McDonald’s UK)
  • Mumsnet consult directly with the community on issues that affect our business. (Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet)

Embrace risk and make failure an integral part of business

  • Success breeds confidence, failure breeds learning. (Jeremy Darroch, Chief Executive and Executive Director of BSkyB)
  • Corporate employees have their risk gene removed on the first day of employment. (Richard Noble OBE, Land Speed Record Breaker and Project Director of Bloodhound SSC)
  • Fear of failure should be a motivating factor not a limiting one. Fail again, fail better (Sam Conniff, co-founder Livity and Social Enterprise Ambassador)

Continuously change and improve

  • Change is a mindset, an approach. It is about renewal and adaptation which are critical for durable, long term success. (Jeremy Darroch)
  • Learning should be fun, adults view play as frivolous – that mindset needs to change. (Jude Ower)
  • The status quo is never good enough. (Jeremy Darroch)

Involve everyone around you

  • It is hard to see the potential in all young people, but it is there. The harder it is to see, the more important it is to find. (Sam Conniff)
  • Our crew are people, not staff or service providers. We want to learn from what they are thinking and feeling. (Jill McDonald)
  • Problems get resolved by people sitting down and talking sensibly. (Brendan Barber, General Secretary, TUC)

Finally, to paraphrase the words of Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, founder of The Black Farmer: The one thing that prevents people from succeeding is fear and the one antidote to fear is passion. It doesn’t matter what qualifications you have or what background you come from. If you have an absolute ruthless focus on what you want to achieve and a positive attitude then things will come your way.

12th May 2011

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