What did Steven Kelly ever do for me? I’d come across Steven before but never heard him speak until Dynamo15. He was the Key Note speaker in his role as the Chief Executive Officer of Sage, the North East’s only FTSE100 company. I loved what he said. He was really inspirational and came across as a top bloke. For me he was in the ‘I would follow him anywhere’camp.
He was slick and polished then so he should be with over thirty years of experience in some of the world’s most successful companies as well as a spell in the UK central government (also a successful organisation in a global sense).
I listened to Steven with interest. Not just because he was a good orator or because he had a fascinating story to tell but rather because he described the kind of organisation that I have been working to build for many years. I just haven’t got there yet. His vision was one where talent is allowed to flourish through a supportive environment and where colleagues come together from all different aspects of the company to improve the service to customers. Everything is about the customer.
So how come he has achieved such an environment while I am still floundering in the foothills? These are some of the things that came across from what he said. He may not have actually said them but the sentiment was there and I’m going to try and embrace them in what I do.
Focus on what is important – Never miss an opportunity to remind people why we come into work, who is it that we are trying to serve and what is it that we do for them. It is easy to forget the purpose of an organisation and how you fit into the bigger picture when your head is down and so we all need to be brought back to what our purpose and values are.
I need to spell it out more – Sometimes what I say is too open to interpretation, or misinterpretation depending upon where you stand. Whilst I don’t think there is anything that is absolutely black and white (apart from Newcastle United) it sometimes happens that people take away from what I have said completely the opposite of what I meant. I naively expect that people come to a problem with the ability to step back and work it out for themselves and that is not always the case. They need help and encouragement. I need to be unequivocal.
Accentuate good behaviour – When I see something I like and that is in line with what we are trying to do then I need to highlight it. I think I do this already yet on the other hand when I come across something that is not in line with our purpose or values I should not tolerate it. I’m not so good at that. I don’t need to do it in a bad way, by screaming and shouting but rather by highlighting how it is inappropriate and refer back to focussing on what is important.
Of course I know all of these things, I just need to try harder and be more consistent in their application. I think listening to Steven has done a lot for me. You can follow him on Twitter @SKellyCEO