I started my career with a small company of 4 people and stayed with that company through takeovers, changes in management, dramatic strategy changes, uncertainty, many changes in direction – 30 years later I am still with the same business although everything is much different. The company now employs over 600 people and I am proud to say that I led the business through many changes and helped it become an award-winning international company. I am very proud of the people and the business we created and grew together.
My influencers over my career journey
I had many early influencers in my life from my family to my school teachers and my close friends.
I enjoyed growing up in a large family with my brothers and sister (7 brothers and 1 sister). My dad gave me my first paying job which taught me many lessons I still value today. I was the first person in my family to go to university and thought of myself often as the odd one out!
In my business life I have again had many influencers but two people always stood out for me. Both of them were strong leaders and women at a time when women in leadership positions were much less common in the workplace, reflective of the society and times I worked in. As a result, they had experienced their own career challenges, and were encouraging of others. One told me to always be myself and bring myself to everything I do. I knew I had to do this but struggled to really allow myself the freedom to open up and be myself – when I finally did decide to be myself I was much happier, my colleagues worked much closer with me and I achieved my main objective of following my retiring boss to lead the company and its people. My other lesson was to genuinely believe in and support your colleagues. Don’t just say that people are important and write it in your mission or vision and forget it, but genuinely believe in people, care and be there no matter who they are. Consistent feedback from my colleagues over the years has been that my ability to talk to others intimately and understand and empathise but be honest was my strongest trait. It has helped me work closely with my colleagues and have an open, honest, and rewarding style.
Career guidance and growth
I have loved my career. I have loved working with others and seeing people change and grow as I have changed and grown. Working life is never easy for anyone from junior to director - we all need help, advice, and someone to talk to and be open with – ask and you will be surprised what you learn about yourself and how to improve your own and your colleagues’ performance!!"
Real-life example: talented superstars, bureaucracy, lacklustre colleagues and your power and duty as a manager
I came across the following post on LinkedIn and wanted to share it with you.
Full link: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6293387632059641856
I’ve copied the text below for ease, removing the significant number of hashtags in the original:
“One of our junior associates recently told me that she was no longer enjoying her role. I was totally shocked as there was no evidence of this in the quality of work she produced or professional conduct displayed in the office and towards clients. We sat down and after getting an overview of what she was doing for the firm I realized that I had messed up. She was picking up the slack for others – whilst still delivering top results. By her own admission she had to pick up the slack for others in order to deliver the targets we had set for her. How often do talented people join an organisation bent on creating value and having an impact; only to face overwhelming corporate bureaucracy and lackluster colleagues? Eventually, if not given the correct support these talented individuals burnout and bail out – leaving the organisation the poorer for it. Spot the top performers in your organisation and nurture them. Check in regularly and be willing - like I did - to face the music for organisational flaws. We owe it to our employees and clients.”
I was struck by three things in this real-life example:
Please let us know if you’ve experienced this yourself as a high-performer, or as a manager, whether you’ve seen it impact your team members. Which approaches have you found work best?
Every July in the United Kingdom we host a world-famous competition that draws amazing athletes from all around the world. The local residents express dissatisfaction at the congestion in the area, and friends from the capital spend time star-spotting in restaurants and pubs, hoping to catch a glimpse of celebrities, movie stars, and players, past and present.
People spend hours queuing for last-minute tickets to each match, all to be part of the atmosphere, and experience the phenomenon that is Wimbledon. These Tennis Championships showcase such skill and talent that they are a joy to watch, with aces, volleys and smashes heightening the excitement. Players climb (and fall) in rankings regularly. Often we forget the preparation and personal sacrifices that go into being match fit, both physically and mentally.
Being in London to experience the build-up and contest itself each year is fantastic, especially as I used to watch on television in the late 80s and 90s growing up, thinking that the United Kingdom was such a sunny place where rain (only occasionally) interrupted play – the days before the retractable roof...
When I contrast my enjoyment now against my spectatorship growing up, I recognise names of stars and players I cheered for or jeered at all those years ago. Over the past decade, it seems that more tennis coaches are players who’ve been there, done that, and have the trophies to prove it. The media refer to this as the ‘rise of the supercoach’. These players-turned-coaches do understand the game, yes, but their track records and experience are at the highest level – they’ve lived it. They have unique insights on the mental aspects of professional tennis, including match temperament and dealing with nerves and doubts. Perhaps this underlines the increasing importance of the balance between technical skill and a winning mindset.
Novak Djokovic described his search for a coach as: “…someone that has been through similar experiences like I have. Not too many people in the past in tennis have managed to get to that stage and play at that level...”
Probably the most well-known example of this partnership of previous champion with rising hopeful is Ivan Lendl’s coaching of Andy Murray. Lendl won eight Grand Slam titles and was Wimbledon runner-up twice, in 1986 and 1987. They began working together towards the end of 2011, and Andy Murray won Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016, along with two Olympics. Lendl is credited with helping Murray to improve his on-court maturity, consistency and concentration.
Amelie Mauresmo (winner of Wimbledon 2006) also coached Andy Murray.
Other examples of coaches and their proteges are:
And some additional mentions for Wimbledon 2017:
In addition to changing coaches over time, some players combine coaches with different skills and experience, each helping to improve a specific aspect of the player’s game.
While the coaches offer their guidance and direction for a myriad of reasons, including a love of the game itself, and the desire to help the next generation of talent succeed, the monetary rewards are also a contributing factor. In effect, the coaches extend their own success through others, stretching the period of time they can earn over – for some, this extra income can be very necessary as the recent bankruptcy news highlights.
One thing is for sure: both the player and the coach benefit from the collaboration. The player receives insight, wisdom born of experience, motivation, and pressure to keep improving. And, in a highly competitive career like professional tennis, this partnership can make a world of difference.
And now a question for you:
In the grand slam that is your chosen career, have you selected the coaches/mentors who will critique your gameplay, cheer you on, push you hard, and guide you towards another straight-set performance?