7 May 2019

Lawrence Jones MBE - CEO UKFast - management and leadershipI recently listened to a TED Talk that really raised some red flags with me about the future of business leaders.

I perhaps come at this from an unusual perspective, really. UKFast is 20 years old and a 500-strong team across all of our businesses. Whilst that’s huge to us, to the businesses that have been running for hundreds of years, we’re small fry. But to hear this Ted Talk in which Elizabeth Lyle talks about the bad habits of business leaders, particularly those in the C-suite, is mind-boggling to me.

In it, she talks of how we have to break the bad habits of today’s leaders, before the upcoming middle-management pick those habits up and perpetuate the bad behaviour. I have to ask, why are these people in leadership roles if they have habits that are so destructive that a consultant has to be brought in to try to break them and stop them being passed on to others.

Role models

For me, our leadership team are role models; they are mentors to the rest of the team. That’s how it should be, right? So why is it that there are so many leaders out there who are continuing ‘command and control behaviour’ like Lyle describes?

I said in a podcast some time ago that when you stop thinking of yourself as a startup is when you begin to die. I stand by that. When you start to think of yourself as a bigger business, you start to see the barriers of change. ‘It would be too hard to maintain the culture that made us what we are, as a big business’ or ‘it would be too hard to implement those policies that other businesses have’. Or the single most destructive phrase in business: ‘it’s the way we’ve always done it’. Perhaps that is what is going wrong, as Lyle describes?

In business you have to be agile, and it is your leadership team who lead that. It really is that simple.

In my opinion, if you have to get someone in to change the way your leadership team behaves because it could jeopardize the future of your business, you need to look at who you have in your leadership team and why.

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