Leading a leadership business means Dr Andy Kelly is uniquely positioned to explain how to get the best from your team. He explains the logic behind surrounding himself with smart people.
What is it the company does?
We provide leadership and management development, executive coaching and top team development to a range of businesses across the UK and Europe.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
I am the MD of the business tasked with creating the vision and strategy, building partnerships and bringing in new clients. A key element of our current and future growth is creating strategic partnerships with other businesses who complement our product offering and enable us to provide a wide range of products to the market. I am also responsible for developing the people in the business. I am a firm believer that if you want to be a good leader you need to surround yourself with people who are better and smarter than you are. I think I have achieved that!
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I am what many would call a career consultant. In my twenties, during a brief spell in the public sector, I was lucky enough to have a boss who told me to undertake an MBA. I had never heard of an MBA! Once I started it I loved every moment and quickly realised that the private sector was where I would get the opportunity to apply the learning from the MBA. I left the local authority and joined a great company called ER Consultants which had been part of EY. That was back in 1991 and I have been a consultant ever since!
What do you believe makes a great leader?
In my job I have the privilege of meeting and working with leaders from all industries and sectors. The great leaders I meet - like Keira Proctor of the A. Proctor Group, or Colin Robertson of ADL, often approach their roles in very different ways, but they have certain strengths in common.
Great leaders invest time in sharing the vision and strategy with the wider workforce. They recognise that this communication is a priority, and not a once a year PowerPoint presentation. They take the time to speak to people and share information about the business and its priorities, explain their decisions and engage with their workforce, explaining where the business is going.
They display a passion for what they do and create an energy and momentum that takes people with them. Great leaders commit to developing and growing their key people, investing time and resources into their learning and development. They also look for opportunities that will push their employees out of their comfort zones, allowing them to grow.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I believe the biggest challenge in learning and development over the next few years is incorporating technology into how leadership and management development is delivered. At the Leadership Factory we are investing heavily in developing portals and apps that augment our learning programmes. Much of the standard ‘horizontal learning’, the models and theories which have been traditionally at the centre of all programmes, will increasingly be delivered online and participants will be expected to learn these in their own time.
The actual classroom sessions will focus on ‘vertical’ learning which involves applying the models and theories to real life challenges. The vertical learning will focus on mindsets and application. My challenge is to ensure the business is leading and not following this change.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I cycle a lot in my spare time and most weekends are spent on the roads around Stirling and south Perthshire. Three to four hours on the bike works wonders for de-stressing and getting your mind off work. During the week I also sing in a choir. Great fun but also very effective when it comes to switching off and not thinking about work.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Like most boys in Scotland I wanted to be a footballer. When I was young I bore an uncanny resemblance to Jimmy Johnstone of Celtic, so everyone expected me to be a tricky, skilful winger. Unfortunately, the short stature and curly ginger hair were the only things Jinky and I shared.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Two things I find difficult in the workplace. The first is negativity, and the second is laziness. I can never understand when people say they hate their job. If you don’t like it find a new one!
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I want to see The Leadership Factory grow, but not so big that it loses its strong team ethic. I want to keep the business creating new approaches and thinking about organisational development and change.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Surround yourself with very talented people and encourage them to challenge you.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Leading people is difficult and it’s not a popularity contest.
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