Always keen to draw upon our own expertise to help other businesses thrive, our CEO Nick Halliday recently attended the ‘Winning Pitch’ — a session held in association with Leeds City Enterprise Partnership and dedicated to sharing all there is to know about building a leadership team that is diverse, connected and experienced.
Drawing upon many years of experience both as a consultant and business leader, Nick discussed his career journey and the encounters which have shaped the way that he approaches such decisions within his own organisation— in turn providing valuable advice for those looking to propel their company towards growth.
For those who missed the event, we’ve rounded up some of the main takeaways from Nick’s talk below:
If the hat fits…
In his former role as a consultant, advising businesses who were on the brink of disaster and guiding them back to a place of strength, Nick learnt a valuable lesson about the nature of people and one which has stuck with him to this day. Simply put, we are only ever going to be good at certain roles, and that’s ok.
While not ground-breaking it’s something that people often overlook. Expecting everyone to do everything is not a sustainable route to success. In the case of start-ups, it may be necessary to merge roles in the short-term —but the sooner you can hire experts to specialise in their own fields, the better.
Similarly, expecting people to perform at the same high levels in every area is unrealistic long-term, and in the scheme of things will prove counterproductive. Instead, allowing people to wear their own ‘hats’ is important — not only will this improve the efficiency of your operation, but it will enable individuals to focus more heavily on their areas of expertise in order to steer your organisation towards success.
As the business grows, it’s likely that the skills you need will change too. Those who were a great fit early on in the journey, may not work so well as the vision progresses. Constantly evaluating the support that you need to take things to the next level is vital.
All about the eco-system
In the early days, identifying those who should become part of the leadership team can be a challenge. But this is where networking – not necessarily in the formal sense, but in regard to everyday acquaintances – can come into its own.
In fact, the eco-system is a big part of growing a business successfully. This is something Nick discovered when he visited America. Upon meeting with organisations from Silicon Valley, it became clear that the environment was a contributing factor in their prosperity. Benefitting from a constant stream of events, easy access to non-executive directors, accountants and everything that a fast-growth company needs to bolster their efforts was in abundance.
Making the most of the growing scene of quality business events will lead to better connections, more opportunities to gain reputable advice and recommendations and, ultimately, a more solid decision-making foundation.
Finding trusted partners along the way can prove a smart way to plug any skills gaps, without the additional people power needed to train and manage new employees when time and resource is already stretched.
Trust your people
When starting his own business, Nick found that by making his first couple of key senior hires, he was naturally able to grow his team from there. Often those experienced in a particular area will have their own contacts and people that they want to work with. This is a great way to appoint quality people, who naturally ‘fit’ too.
Culture is important and finding someone that is the correct kind of person, can sometimes be a challenge. Following the usual formalities of a CV selection, interview and a discipline-specific ‘test’, inviting a potential new recruit along to a work event is a good way to find out if they gel with the team.
While you will lose applicants in the process, it’s an efficient approach to identifying someone with the correct attributes to truly succeed in your company.
If in doubt, ask for advice
With a larger professional network will come trusted partners. If they have more experience in a particular area, don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations. A great accountant is often much easier to find based on the experience of your network, for example, than from picking out a number from a search engine. The same applies when finding those who will join you in leading your company’s growth.
Many organisations will give free advice on the basis that they may get business from you in the future. In fact, at IDS we often have companies approach us as part of our tech accelerator scheme which helps fuel the growth of SaaS businesses.
If those businesses are not at the right stage for the level of support that we offer, we redirect them to someone who we think may be able to help. Therefore, it is always worth reaching out to those who may form a part of your bigger picture — they may just be able to point you in the right direction.
Bring in external guidance
Non-Execs can bring significant value to a business if utilised correctly, but often what people really need is someone to have honest conversations with. Before investing externally, consider whether there is budding advisory knowledge and untapped expertise already within the organisation. If so, consider how training may better leverage those skills in-house.
Sometimes a mentor may be more appropriate and can make a massive difference to thought processes and productivity. Throughout his time in business Nick has had various mentors, and some of the best have come about in situations when he wasn’t actually looking.
Incidentally, the qualities of a mentor can often be the very thing that you are looking for in a senior team — so spending some time establishing exactly what role they need to play within your journey is invaluable.
You can watch a recording of the event below:
Chaired by Garbutt & Elliot and entitled ‘Build Your Board for Growth’, the event brought together a diverse collection of minds from all sectors of industry. Speakers included Georgina Mitchell, Associate Non-Executive Director at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust; Dr David Mckee, CEO, CTO and Founder of Slingshot Simulations; and Sarah Hex, Business Development Manager at Mercia Asset Management.
Held in association with Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership as part of its investment readiness programme, the aim of the session was to arm businesses with a host of advice to aid their future growth.
To hear more about how IDS could support your growing business via the team’s expertise in areas such as software development, systems integration and technical due diligence, call 0113 859 1669 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.