SKILLS From barracks to the boardroom

Capable leaders are the heartbeat of the British Army and adopting a military approach to leadership and development within business environments can pay dividends, says Amanda Foster, a Chartered Engineer and Business Development Strategist with her business partner, Army Colonel Adam Fraser- Hitchen, at their consultancy Dragonfly Directors.

The golden thread which runs through the Army’s ranks is leadership development – an approach which enables teamwork and individual responsibility among its new recruits from the outset and allows the Army to operate in complex environments on the world stage. The impact and significance of

good leadership is not just the preserve of the military. Without effective leaders at every level, a business can’t reach its full potential. There’s no doubt the military’s

approach can bring real value to the way we train and develop staff in the modern business world. Since leaving, the military has shaped the latter stage of my career as a business development strategist. Over the decades we’ve

reflected on what we feel makes

the Army work and instilled it into the heart of businesses based around three key approaches. The first is to ‘lead by example’.

There are very few situations, if any, where actions do not speak louder than words. Personal demonstration speaks volumes and it’s a method that is invaluable in business environments. The second approach is to

‘delegate leadership responsibility to the lowest levels’. This can often lead to the quieter team members doing remarkable things on very difficult days. This is hugely rewarding for businesses which take pride in developing their staff. The third approach is the

product of the first two approaches - ‘mutual trust’ between all employees based on professional competence. Doing the right thing

Amanda Foster (centre) at Dragonfly Directors’team building centre

at the right time, and placing people at the centre of your operation with a clear purpose, can generate a pace of activity that is aligned to the business output. The Army’s insistence on creating

a sense of belonging, underpinned by clearly defined values and standards, is driven by the need for soldiers and officers at all levels to overcome difficult challenges on difficult days. This attitude can also deliver significant value in a business world that feels ever more complex.

‘There’s no doubt the military’s approach can bring real value to the way we train and develop staff in the modern business world’

Why leaders need more than qualifications

Richard Haaker (pictured), Managing Director, Macildowie, identifies the key priorities when looking to make a C-Suite or director-level appointment.

Today, the average cost of an internally- recruited bad hire is more than £30,000; a figure that could make or break a business, leaving a workforce demotivated and, in some cases, without a job if the business fails. With so much at stake, there should be no short cuts in the recruitment process of a leader. To ensure success and longevity,

a leader must be the physical embodiment of the company, able to effectively engage employees, customers, and investors. The leader will need to live and breathe the culture and values to create an operational environment where everyone can thrive. At Macildowie, we host quarterly peer-to-

peer MD Mastermind forums which bring together business leaders and, in these sessions, the desirable skills and personality traits of their leadership team is a frequent topic of conversation. In a changing business environment and uncertain economy, having an adaptable skill set is vital.

82 business network December 2019/January 2020

Macildowie’s executive search

team is often asked to find leaders that are conscientious, curious and strong

communicators. These skills will frequently bring care and ambition,

innovation and positive change. Advancements such as psychometric testing

have enabled recruitment specialists to gain a better understanding about this type of skill set when searching for critical hires like board members or senior leaders. Macildowie’s Mindmill, for example, is one

online psychometric analysis test that assesses the underlying qualities in candidates that cannot be deciphered from a CV; from

behavioural preferences and problem solving, to personality and trainability. These online tools reduce the risks in hiring candidates based purely on education or qualifications. It is important to note what works for one

business may not work for another. Executive search specialists are able to draw on their knowledge of talent pipelines and succession strategies to find a unique approach that works for each company. The knowledge an executive search recruiter

can bring to the process should not be underestimated. When searching for the figurehead of a region, division or the whole business, it is too important not to get right first time.

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