By Paul Baker
When I was invited to attend a masterclass with Damian Lewis I was intrigued. Why was the famous thespian and star of TV dramas like Homeland and Billions giving a session on leadership entitled ‘How to change absolutely anything’? Perhaps he would be delving into his experience of some of the great Shakespearian leads and applying them to the cut throat world of business – Richard III, Julius Caesar, King Lear?
A short blimp at Google later and I was disavowed of my notions… Damian Hughes was to be my chief inspirator, the Mancunian motivational speaker and author of books like ‘Five Steps To A Winning Mindset’ and ‘How To Think Like Alex Ferguson’.
Professor Hughes brings the lessons he has learnt through motivating sportspeople, including professional football teams like Manchester United and Barcelona, to the world of business.
He’s used to addressing large crowds who are big fans of his books, so a small room of 20 or so business leaders could have been a tough audience. As it was, his three-hour masterclass was intense, interactive and went down well.
So, to distil those 180 minutes into his main points…
It’s important to practice self-consistency. If you say to your employees, your customers, or on your website that your company has a certain ethos, make sure you stand by these practices in everything you do. Set out your company vision and reinforce it in the way you manage everything within it. Behaviours are more important than values.
Try to constantly think how others perceive you and your business, whether customers, staff or rival firms. Challenge your staff to do the same and reinforce positive behaviours. Tell clients what behaviours they should expect to see and then ask them to rate your success.
Think about your staff. Do they represent your business in the right manner? First impressions should reinforce the culture of the company – from the nature of your reception staff to the phone and email manners of your employees.
Do you measure the happiness of your employees? Perhaps that should be a key performance indicator for your business. Even if you do value staff happiness and engagement, does that all go out of the window during busy periods or when times are tough? If so, this will likely create the sort of stress that, over a sustained period, will cause collapse and failure of individuals, teams or even the whole structure.
Recognise that banter is an aggressive instinct, which is never going to address any real issues with employees. Using facts, fear and force to try to change negative behaviours in staff is not going to be successful.
Staff want to belong, to be valued and to feel like they are in control of their own work. See the workplace through their eyes, reinforce positive behaviours and you should be able to change anything that’s not working for your business.
Or, as Damien Lewis might have suggested we say to our employees, to quote King Lear: “Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”