7 August 2017

lawrence jones mbe ceo ukfast

On holiday reflecting on the business and our journey so far.

Einstein is quoted as saying: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

This is a quote that I often come back to. In the work that we do, in driving new thinking in education, it is essential that young people are assessed on every strength not just academia. Equally I know that everyone in my team has different strengths and weaknesses.

I am sure that you would agree. Yet, for some reason, as business leaders we don’t treat ourselves with this same courtesy. Perhaps it’s because in the early days we are forced to wear so many different hats. To cover every job that needs to be done within the business. Perhaps it’s because being an entrepreneur you have to be a certain type of person. Be someone who believes that anything is possible and will find a way to make it happen.

However, when your schedule is full, how do you expect to keep being an expert at everything?

Valuable lesson

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned so far is to hire people who are better than me at the things that I am not passionate about. For example, going back a decade or so, it would come around to sending our end of year accounts. It was never a job that I enjoyed doing and it would cause me stress because of that. However, my wife Gail absolutely thrives when it comes to organisation, figures and forms, and she took our accounts in her stride.

As business leaders we have to be mindful that we can’t do everything. It’s simply not possible or sustainable.

We also have a responsibility to ensure that when we have senior recruits coming into the business, or people who want to step up, that we make sure that we match personalities as well as their strengths to the right roles.

That’s part of why we run psychometric tests as part of our recruitment process. These tests give us insight into what a person is like and how they will fit in with the team, but also what really makes them tick – not just what they tell us makes them tick because they think that’s what we want to hear!

Ultimately, great businesses rely on great people, and on leaders taking time to get to know the team, how they tick and empowering them with the jobs that they’re passionate about.

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