Inspiring Leadership: Embracing Adaptability and Empathy

June 19, 2024By C8 ConsultingInsights

Written by Mark Foulsham, Board Advisor and Digital Leadership Coach and Panellist at C8’s 20th anniversary event

 

In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, inspiring leadership is more crucial than ever. Companies are not only disrupting markets but also striving to maintain flexibility and agility to evolve their market positions. As markets continue to develop, leaders who can inspire and guide their teams through transformational change are invaluable. I had the pleasure of attending C8 Consulting’s 20th anniversary celebrations in May, in which I provided my insight on what makes a truly inspiring leader. 

My career spans various senior leadership roles, and I’ve utilised these experiences to provide valuable lessons in transformational change. I highlight two significant cases from my career that demonstrate the power of adaptability and the importance of a customer-first digital strategy. The first example is from my tenure as CIO at an insurance company, where I spearheaded the transition to an internet-first approach. The second involves my work in the mortgage sector, where I implemented a customer-centric digital strategy.

Adaptability and Agility in Leadership

My journey in the insurance industry began at a startup where I quickly realised the need for adaptability. The company, which initially operated through telephony channels, had to transition to an internet-first model to stay competitive. My role was key in shifting the balance between traditional and digital channels, a process that involved consolidating disparate teams and aligning them towards a common goal. This experience taught me that adaptability is a critical component of inspiring leadership. By being flexible and open to change, leaders can guide their organisations through periods of significant transformation. 

Empathy and Team Cohesion

Another cornerstone of my leadership philosophy is empathy. I believe that understanding and connecting with people across all levels of an organisation is essential. This was evident in my role at Scope, a disability charity, where I served as chief digital officer. The role exposed me to the inequalities faced by disabled people, reinforcing the importance of creating an inclusive environment.  

Creating Cohesive Teams 

Throughout my career, I have often found myself in situations where I needed to bring together disparate functions within organisations. Whether it was in the insurance or mortgage sectors, my focus was on creating a culture of cohesion and collaboration among teams. I liken this to joining the dots, emphasising that a leader’s role is to ensure that all parts of an organisation work together as one unit towards a common objective. This approach not only enhances efficiency but also builds a strong, unified corporate culture. 

Clear Vision and Purpose

Communication is often cited as a critical leadership quality, but I believe it goes deeper than that. True leadership requires a clear sense of purpose and integrity. Leaders must articulate a vision and ensure that everyone in the organisation understands and buys into it. This clarity of vision is what aligns teams and drives them towards achieving common goals. 

Drawing Inspiration from Everyday Heroes

I find inspiration not only from prominent figures but also from everyday individuals who demonstrate resilience and dedication in their roles. I recall my time at Scope, where I was moved by the determination and resilience of people facing significant challenges every day. To me, the true meaning of leadership lies in recognising and emulating the admirable qualities found in every person. 

In conclusion, inspiring leadership is about much more than just guiding a company through change. It involves being adaptable, empathetic, and able to unite diverse teams towards a shared vision. With the right approach, it’s possible to navigate the complexities of modern business while inspiring and uplifting those around you.

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