What is corporate renewal? Jonathan Jackson posed that question to Daryl Wright, leader of performance improvement firm Bond Street One-Eighty.
- Client Media
- Published: 02 April 2013
Good leadership equates to empowerment and this is what Daryl Wright achieves each time he goes into a business to effect change. He has been doing it for some time now and he’s learnt a great deal about leadership, management and business improvement. In fact, business improvement has been the motivating face throughout Daryl’s career.
“I did my CA in South Africa and while we all know that business is driven by numbers, real results come through a variety of management factors,” he says.
“When I first began in business what motivated me was a concern that the value people brought to an organisation was not fully appreciated. What also motivated me was a passion to develop leadership ability to better communicate strategic plans.”
In his first major role Daryl learnt that to run a successful business you must hire the best people, create an environment to keep them and then let them do their jobs. However, he laments the fact that in most businesses today, that vision and mindset is lacking.
“Here in Australia, central control still rules the workplace,” he says. “And it’s not such a productive thing.”
As such Bond Street One-Eighty goes into businesses to change that top down, iron-first rule.
“I think the best way to assess leadership is by results, the next is by looking at the culture. We have an interview process where we go through and talk to all the staff: what they think can be done better; do they know where the company is going? Normally when there is a good culture, there is good communication and there is empowerment. When you have those two things, you have a reasonable chance of pulling through.”
At this stage Daryl doesn’t take into account external factors such as economics which can’t be mitigated. However, you get the feeling that once Bond Street One-Eighty has conducted its examination of company structures, the economics will sort themselves out.
Yet everybody has to be on the same page; from the managing director down and this means management of the decision making process.
“One client we are engaged with leaves all financial decisions to the MD. However, if the MD eased up, you could empower other staff members to make those decisions and bring them to a whole new level.”
Some managers are just afraid to let go, or even embrace change and some just want to protect their position, but for the good of the company a loosening of the reins is often necessary. Daryl cites the example of social media; a powerful medium that too few companies fail to embrace through fear or scepticism, but which could really improve their marketing.
Daryl isn’t attacking leaders, indeed he says those in middle management are in the loneliest of positions, having to answer to those in upper management while leading the staff on the ground and implementing any change that comes through. The strongest leaders from the CEO down are the ones who take responsibility for their actions.
This is made easier if the culture is strong.
“That’s why you see companies like Virgin and GE maintain success; they stand up and take responsibility. At Qantas, Alan Joyce has come under severe attack, but he is invoking change because he sees a problem.”
Daryl says leaders shouldn’t be afraid to serve their organisations: encourage and empower their people to bring greater value to the whole.
This sometimes means changing the culture and mindset of those leaders.
“You have to break the ego down before you can change the culture. You have to sit down and listen to them and have empathy and you have to get them to understand that it’s okay to fail. In the US if you haven’t failed you are not regarded as being really successful. You have to win trust and transparency. Generally most people are willing to open up and share their inner thoughts. MDs reporting to boards say opening up is difficult to do, so you give them strategies that are non-confrontational and allow them to put their cases forward.”
When people open up, you can discover what it is they truly want.
Daryl had one client who was up for promotion, but didn’t want to manage people.
“We worked on one case where they took a great sales guy and wanted to make him a manager. I said not to do that, just see what he wants. He didn’t want to manage people, he wanted prestige. So we lifted his pay by 50% and made him a territorial manager.”
Daryl has found that the abovementioned salesman didn’t possess some of the key criteria to make him a leader. This criterion includes:
- The ability to manage people.
- The ability to train people.
- The ability to advise people.
- The ability to interact with people.
- The ability to listen.
When you put this criteria in place the stronger leaders will step up and the weaker leaders will realise they are not cut out for that type of responsibility.
Daryl lists the skill of listening last, because he feels it is the most important skill to have.
“Listening can enhance so much change. The receptionist knows what works and what doesn’t in her space. So a good leader will listen to the receptionist and find out what is working and what is not working, then manage that to make things right.”
Through Bond Street One-Eighty, Daryl runs a performance improvement practice, looking at where businesses are going and giving them the building blocks to turn things around. He utilises the best of his experiences, with those of his business colleagues who are all CEOs and CFOs.
So what corporate renewal mean?
« Bond Street One-Eighty is dedicated corporate advisory firm, which facilitates mergers and acquisitions and helps companies grow, sell and renew through improvement performance around the model of leadership, strategy, people and equity. »
Daryl is a firm believer that if you can’t lead, you can’t talk about leadership and he has therefore honed his leadership skills, which are widely accepted as some of the strongest in the country.
He embraces change, but notes that many people are at some point resistant. The key is listening to their needs: young guys setting up social media sites have different requirements to the close-to-retirement frustrated board member.
Finally the thing that motivates Daryl most is the learning experience. He is not in business for the wealth creation. He is there for the pure satisfaction of seeing businesses survive and prosper in Australia and further to that, have direct positive impact on the wider community.
KEY ELEMENTS TO CHANGE MANAGEMENT
- Ability to listen – understanding what is happening in an organisation and what change is required. A lot of managers make the change and hope for the best.
- Getting people on board in any change management program is vital. It’s difficult to motivate change without open transparent communication.
- Clarity of strategy – understanding why you want to change. Strategy varies from company to company. Each has different demands. Sometimes the strategy is to wind down but, all in all, strategy should be holistic and about the improvement and return on investment and how to get there. It’s not about the results at the end of the month, it is about the window of opportunity and how you get there.