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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Roffey Park conference: leading in tough times, Roffey Park, UK, 24 April 2009
Article Type: Resources From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 8, Issue 5
Michael JenkinsMichael Jenkins is the chief executive of Roffey Park (www.roffeypark.com)
Roffey Park welcomed an audience of senior leaders to a business-focused day to examine the leadership challenges they face in the global environment and investigate how leaders can maintain their personal performance at work during such difficult economic times. Some of the themes from the day include:
1 Leading by example
The event opened by drawing on the example of Haruka Nishimatsu, president and CEO of Japan Airlines, who is one of the most popular Japanese figures to be posted on YouTube since CNN reported on him as a modest CEO. He changed his approach to work and cut his own benefits to ensure he could relate to how his staff and passengers feel in the current economic climate. CNN covered his commuting by public transport and eating lunch at the company’s cafeteria together with other employees. At a time of recession where “fat cat” bonuses are being openly challenged, the audience heard that such behaviors of austerity and humility need to be part of a leader’s core competencies – they can help engage employees and gain their trust.
2 Do vision and values matter in a recession?
Dr Jane Gibbs, group procurement and supply chain director at Rok plc., described the journey undertaken by Rok and how the review of its vision and values impacted on the turnover of the organization. Margi Gordon, consultant at Roffey Park, supports this view that organizational vision and values can really aid turnover but also suggests that current methods of measuring business success may not be appropriate for the world in the future, where the wider contribution of a business may take a higher priority over numbers.
At a time when organizations are under immense strain, the senior leaders at the event agreed that revisiting purpose and value statements and ensuring they do not gather dust on a shelf is a valuable approach for leaders to adopt.
3 Looking after yourself
Everyone can appreciate the personal impact of the tumultuous times we are experiencing and the impact on stress levels. This was illustrated clearly by the example of the Japanese word, Karoshi, which literally means “death from overwork.” Japan is one of the few countries that reports it in statistics as a separate category with the major causes of these deaths being heart attack and stroke due to stress.
With that sobering example in mind, Martin Boroson, author of The One Moment Master, provided a practical demonstration of his technique for meditation. This struck a chord with many senior managers who agree that it is possible to find time in the day for this highly pragmatic and simple method.
4 The role of the leader
As ever, the crux of success lies with leaders and the audience heard from Steve Tappin, author of The Secrets of CEOs, who concluded that leaders need to be at their best both personally and professionally by leading with conviction and answering key questions including where they are today and how they drive short-term performance and win in the long-term.
The view of strong leadership from the front was shared by an earlier session led by Charles Horton, managing director of Southeastern, who demonstrated the role employee engagement plays in tough times and discussed how organizations should not neglect the need to manage growth in a recession.