Once a Leader, always a Leader

Follow the leader

Leadership is something that’s very relevant in my life right now, both at work and for me personally. Here at Bromford I’ve recently completed the first part of my Living Leadership training which is designed to deliver our core strategic objectives:

  • Delivering A Role Model Service
  • Creating A Great Place To Work
  • Leading Innovation and Change

With an itinerary that covered topics ranging from Fierce Conversations to Getting to Yes and Knowing the Numbers to Leading Change, I knew this was going to be a journey that I could look back upon to help me improve my leadership qualities. My next steps see me walking within our Talent Academy; a 12 month journey which was launched on 16th August by our CEO Mick Kent and special guest Jeff Grout. You might ask; why so much learning? Before I answer that let me share a Mahatma Gandhi quote with you that Mick used in that opening session:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever.”

We should use every opportunity we are presented with to enhance ourselves and build on our personal development, Mick himself will be the first to admit; “we are all trainees”.

For me Leadership is about how you portray yourself, how you represent the organisation you work for and the influence you have on others. And you don’t need to be directly managing anybody to be a leader. My current secondment means that I don’t have any direct responsibility of a team but I do feel that I’ve always got a wider team at heart. I feel that I have a duty of care to anyone who may turn to me for help, advice or support within their work – and even if I don’t know the answer to something I’ll always do my best to point them in the direction of somebody that will. I always try to do my best for others, encouraging their work and demonstrating a positive attitude when I’m around them, if I don’t then I would feel as though I’ve failed the people who turn to me and I’d even feel as though I’ve failed myself.

John Terry was recently stripped of the England captaincy after he was found guilty of racial abuse by the Football Association. But despite his actions he is still seen as a role model to many young Chelsea fans up and down the country and most probably in many countries around the world too. Chelsea’s recent dip in form, which led to the sacking of manager Roberto Di Matteo last week, is said by some to have been contributed to by John Terry’s absence through suspension and injury. Whatever your opinion of John Terry, rightly or wrongly, he is a leader. On and off the pitch, inside and outside of football, people watch his every move and a number of people look up to him for inspiration, guidance and support. So John must always be at his best, if not for his own sake most definitely for others.

Andy & Paul

I’m not posting this saying I want to be the next John Terry, I’m not the best at football for starters (although I’m told I do resemble Paul Scholes in the looks department) but we can take something from his situation. John Terry has achieved pretty much everything a footballer would dream of having captained his team to Premier League glory, lifted the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Community Shield. He’s won the Champions League, PFA Player of the Year and captained his country – but is John Terry the best player in world; no. Are there things he wishes he would have done differently; I’d say so. Is he still learning; most definitely!

Leadership is a journey that’s one for all, not all for one. You can be at the very top of your game but if you’ve not careful things can come tumbling down very quickly around you. If we want to achieve amazing things in our careers we cannot afford to become complacent. We need to surround ourselves with fantastic people, have a willingness to get better at what we do and we must use our experiences to help one another. Even when our circumstances change we must remain true to ourselves and one another. If we want to be better leaders we must continue to learn. I believe that we must act on the basis; Once a Leader, always a Leader.

The Masterplan

I’ve been blogging for a couple of months now and felt the timing was right to give you a whirlwind tour into my life and how I’ve ended up doing what I do today.

From an early age I loved to draw, I’d always be picking up pad and pen to scribble and copy pictures of my favourite football player or character from Transformers. So I applied this enthusiasm into my education and pursued a career in Art & Design. I studied through my GCSE’s, took A-Levels, plodded through a year at Art College and then came away from University with a degree – all of which led me to a career in social housing, eventually!

When I was 21 I had to seek my own housing options and was made up to be offered my first Housing Association property. It was a comfortable 2 bedroom flat which I shared with my girlfriend and we furnished it with hand-me-downs from family. Over time we started to replace a few bits and pieces with things we were able to buy for ourselves and with help from our friends and parents we decorated throughout, adding new fixtures and fittings along the way. I wasn’t brilliant with DIY (my wife will tell you I’m still not) but we had help from others where and when they could spare us the time. I was happy, I had a girlfriend (who is now the very same wife who criticises my DIY attempts), a flat I could call my home and a university degree – although sadly I’d been unable to secure a job, hearing the constant sound of; “we love your work but we’re looking for somebody with a little more experience”.

Throughout school and university I worked in a hotel kitchen washing dishes and mopping floors. I worked in a warehouse order-picking for a major high-street supermarket and tried my hand working in a call centre for a high-street bank. I then came to learn about Bromford back in 2003 when I took up the opportunity to work in the Customer Service Centre. I’d hoped that this would give me the vital office experience that I craved to help me with those set-backs I’d had pursuing my career in Graphic Design. In honesty I saw a job with Bromford as more of a stepping stone for me, a chance to earn some valuable office experience that I could use in future job interviews – little did I know that Bromford would actually shape my career path!

As I’m about to turn into my 33rd year of youth I look back over these experiences and wonder whether all of these were in fact all part of the master plan for me. In my spare time I love listening to music and followed Oasis over the years, I share with you below some lyrics from their track ‘The Masterplan’:

“I’m not saying right is wrong

It’s up to us to make

The best of all things that come our way

And all the things that came have past

The answer’s in the looking glass

There’s four and twenty million doors

Down life’s endless corridor”

I’m not asking you to go reciting the words of Noel Gallagher but I do wonder whether my future was already mapped out for me and if in fact my longing for a career in Art & Design was just my creative bloods getting flowing for something beyond graphics and drawing. Those job application refusals; were they because I was never destined to follow that path and instead my longing for ‘office experience’ was me bedding myself into an organisation I’d grow to love? Me opening the door to my very own Social Housing home for 5 years; was this to give me a taste of what it’s about, to learn from those experiences that I would then take with me to use in my job today?

I look at my past not pondering over the things that could have been but instead to learn from the experiences. It was unbeknown to me at the time but I do now firmly believe that these were in fact my windows of opportunity, corridors of choices and doorways to success. If then my future has already been mapped out for me perhaps I’m just making decisions that are leading me to an inevitable outcome – if we are all part of a master plan, I’m making the most out of mine.