Leading from the front

Livingston James consultant Ben Walker shares his thoughts on our most recent Leadership Conversation with Brendan Dick, Managing Director of BT Regions.

We were very lucky to welcome Brendan Dick to our September Leadership Conversation, which brought together clients and contacts to listen to Brendan and learn from his experiences in leadership to date.

Brendan spent time discussing leadership and the importance of good leaders giving recognition to their wider team.  Brendan referenced British military commander, General Bill Slim, who led the 14th Army in the much forgotten Burma campaign in the Second World War.  He said “when it was all over and he spoke of what his army had done it was always ‘you’, not even ‘we’ and never ‘I’”.   This sums up Brendan’s humble and inspiring attitude to leadership that has clearly stood him in good stead.

Brendan’s style is straightforward and approachable.  He’s a man who understands that to be a good leader requires communication and understanding, and that unless you are prepared to fully engage with your staff, you won’t achieve results.

He was clear that there is no ‘magic bullet’ for good people management, recognising that as individuals, we all bring our own strengths and weaknesses to a team.  He was explicit that both must be managed, particularly weaknesses, as to ignore can leave a team vulnerable.

Having been in leadership roles at BT for a number of years, Brendan has experienced huge levels of upheaval in the organisation witnessing its change from public sector to private company with headcount falling from around 250,000 to 100,000.  Following these years he understands that change is essential for growth, and if it is happening incrementally, then it’s not going to be effective.

Brendan has learned that leading change requires you to trust and support your team, whilst at the same time motivating and challenging them in a constructive manner to always strive to do more.  As a leader you should always be asking your team how you can help them to improve, and not just rely on resources or budgets as a benchmark of success.

His passion for leading change is not limited to his role at BT, but also extends to his involvement with organisations such as the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry. In  both instances Brendan has been able to use what he has learnt in his professional life to benefit organisations and communities he believes in, in order to make a difference.  He also highlighted the importance of looking for learning opportunities in all areas of life, not just professional situations, reflecting on his own experiences in his involvement with his local golf club.

Brendan’s view is that everyone can lead, regardless of background or position in the business if given the time, space and support to do so.  He realises that engaging and empowering your workforce is the only way to achieve real business change, which is what effective leadership is all about.

Livingston James hosts regular Leadership Conversations featuring speakers from across the Scottish business community.  For more information please contact [email protected]

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