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Mark Bray’s #leadership tips

Director @ Aquenta Consulting

This is a leader that empowers his team, encourages ideas, fosters innovation and has a relentless focus on the team culture. How do I say this when I’ve never met him? Mark was recently nominated for leadership tips by one of his team and the passion that leapt out of my screen from the nomination was phenomenal with many examples of a very ‘giving’ person living the values of a human centred leader.

Mark, who is the best boss you’ve had and why?

I’m afraid I have to nominate two!! They ran a partnership so they kind of acted as one. Nick Schumann and Dave Smith were two very different types of leaders. They were my first, of only a handful of professional Character Angels in my life so far. Nick was a very brilliant hard-nosed, almost old fashioned type businessman, he was ruthless but brilliant at making a dollar. Dave was the cool head. He had emotional intelligence way before it was called that and the two complimented each other to build a great business. At 16 when I left school with no qualifications and no idea what I wanted to do, they saw something in me that no one else did and have mentored me through my career ever since in very different but fascinating ways.

What are your top 3 tips for being a better leader?

1. Consistency, consistency, consistency — Your team need to trust, feel and believe you can handle the ups and downs, highs and lows of being a leader. There is security in a team who knows that when the shit hits the fan their leader is there with support and direction in the same calm consistent manner as when the pressure is off. Every single time without fail.

2. Fun — Most of us work very long hours and even though there is a push for work life balance, with accessibility to information, especially emails through phones, we are accessible to work 24/7. Therefore Fun, in my opinion is a massive motivator for our team. If we can make our work more fun we’ll engage our teams better, deliver better results and keep our team united.

3. Enthusiasm — The power of enthusiasm is contagious. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” It’s true and something that all great leaders show. Enthusiasm also changes the meaning of a challenge. With an enthused team you can accomplish anything. Enthusiasm is a choice we make every day and when it’s unleashed the opportunities are boundless and endless.

What conventional corporate wisdom no longer applies in today’s workplace?

One conventional thought was that managers are here to tell us what to do. In my generation we grew up with the idea that our manager’s word was final. “Why is the manager’s word the last word? Because he or she is the boss — that’s why!” When I first became a manager I had some of my team look at me as if I should be the ultimate oracle and font of knowledge. In no way should this apply now. In a world that is changing very fast it is impossible, always has been, for leaders to know everything.

True leaders as with great mentors, will work with their team and encourage them to solve the problems. It’s amazing how a lot of your team will already know the answers, but lack the confidence to make the decision that comes with experience. So encourage and nurture your team to make their own decisions as part of their growth. This builds one of the most powerful areas of true leadership, trust, and dispels forever the old theory that our manager’s word was final.

Workplaces are changing, I predict…

Continual change! It may sound obvious but the future is impossible to fully predict. We’ve moved from small office spaces and ‘pools’ of people to open plan offices now to ABW (Activity Based Working). We are preaching about stand up desks rather than sit down, but again that’s changing as it is now thought that to stand up all day is as bad as to sit down all day. Gamification is very topical and there are many publications on the subject of turning work into a game which some companies are adopting, but Mary Poppins was doing that with tidying the kid’s room back in 1964!!

The future is Artificial Intelligence and robots. It’s now known that it’s not just manufacturing that will be affected, Lawyers and Doctors and other professional white collar industries are primed to be replaced by machines.

I predict that we won’t totally disappear from offices to work from home or another space. The main purpose for the office workplace will be for social interaction to bounce ideas off each other solve important issues. I believe we will always crave face to face personal interaction, it’s a basic human need that will not change for the next Millennia.

More about Mark on LinkedIn