Friday, November 28, 2008

Leadership Lessons

I'm grateful for my friend in the US Steve Felix publishing on his own Blog a reminder of Leadership Lessons from my book “I Wanna Tell You A Story”

1. Never, ever assume.

2. Be humble, you are still learning: you can learn from anyone. You are a role model-think about how you want to be remembered.

3. Make it up as you go along works as a strategy sometimes. Policies help and act as a guide but sometimes you just have to get on and ‘do it.’

4. Actually you don’t know all the answers; you can always learn; beware especially of those old well-established systems that everyone is comfortable with-don’t protect them blindly.

5. The best way to gain power is to let go of power; Your front line staff knows all the answers. You cannot possibly know the dynamics and relationships as well as your staff. Learn to let go.

6. Know what it is that you do; and more importantly, know how you can prove it.

7. You are as powerful or as weak as you believe you are; Strive for change and improvements…No one should be punished for trying too hard.

8. Walking the talk means getting your hands dirty; You never lose the responsibility of making sure the job gets done. Your credibility is linked to how dirty you are prepared to see your hands become.

9. Never underestimate how powerful you are perceived to be as a manager; You hold the key to the joy or grief of many people and you probably do not realize it. Respect that power and use it to make the job of your staff easier.

10. Cherish the basics; When you begin your leadership journey as a junior member of staff, cherish the experience you gain in doing the basics well. Your ‘old’ bosses may appear pedantic-but you will remember that detail when you are a leader and just how important detail can be.

11. Take responsibility personally as a leader; Small thing to you may be a big thing to someone else.

12. You don’t need to shout; People know when they have made a mistake.

13. Rules are made to be stretched; and sometimes broken.

14. Decisiveness is both listening and doing; Decisiveness is about listening respectfully and then setting a clear direction.

15. Make up your own mind; Don’t always believe what you hear about your bosses. Make your mind up based on how they treat you.

16. Always be ready to change your plans; Never make assumptions about other people’s motivation and when you make plans be prepared to change them.

As always let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Four People Who Have Inspired Me

I've probably been influenced in my career by hundreds of people. I've narrowed it down to four people who have influenced me more than most - these four are outstanding.

Firstly my very first boss when I was 16 years of age and going into the big world of employment for the first time. Mr Spittlehouse (what a great name) was the boss of the local hospital and he taught me the importance of the basics. I would probably see him now as a bit obsessional about detail but I also realise how important that was for me in my formative years at work. Sadly Mr Spittlehouse died a few years ago but his impact on my career still resonates.

Secondly Dr Chakraborti who was the Doctor in charge of the learning disability service I worked in about 30 years ago. He was a real fighter for his clients i.e. people with a learning disability and their families. I was so proud to work with Dr Chakraborti. It was he who gave me a motto about learning disability services that I've tried to follow in all my work since - "Spend time with people with learning disability and always keep an open mind" - It works for me

Thirdly Dr Phil Shute who was my own Family Doctor (General Practitioner) and a colleague in my NHS career in Devon. Phil and I were the joint drivers of an amazing 3 year project in the mid 1990's aimed at improving services for people who lived in a very deprived part of Devon. He was an inspiration in so many ways. His clarity of thought, his total dedication and his passion for the patient was something I've not experienced before or since.

Fourthy Professor George Giarchi about whom I have written before on this Blog. George is truly amazing. He is now approaching 80 years of age and still works for the University of Plymouth as Professor of Social Care. He remains my 'life supervisor.' George was my academic supervisor in 1996-98 when I did my MA Management (Health Care). I got to know George well and his knowledge, humility and integrity are second to none in my entire career.

I would love to hear about a few of the folks who may have influenced you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Now THAT is Customer Care - Amen!

I was running a Customer Care workshop today and came across a gem of a story about customer care which I am re-producing here with the kind permission of Jill, the participant who told the story when I asked for examples of good attitudes in customer care.

It seems Jill and her wheelchair bound husband went on holiday to Crete and when they booked the holiday they requested a ground floor bedroom. When they arrived at the hotel they discovered, to their horror, their room was actually on the top floor and the hotel had no lift.

The manager - who spoke little English - apologised
profusely and immediately transferred Jill and her husband to a ground floor room and they were thrilled.

They slept soundly that night after their initial anxiety and when they woke in the morning they discovered that a CONCRETE RAMP had been BUILT outside their room overnight to enable easier access to the garden area for the wheelchair.

They had not heard a sound as they slept and they were simply gobsmacked to see what had happened.

Now that is what I call customer service. It restores my faith in what I have always said on the Blog - despite some opposition - that customer care excellence is something that some people just 'get' and some people just 'don't get.'

This manager really understands customer care and I would love to work in an organisation that he runs

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fifty years of Fergie in football

Saturday 15th November – as well as being the birthday of my oldest son, Simon also marks the 50th anniversary of Sir Alex Ferguson in football (soccer for my friends from over the pond)

I am not going to write much on this posting but I do ask you to read the BBC Report at this link for the full blow-by-blow coverage of the career of this great icon since his debut as a professional footballer in Scotland as a 16 year old in 1958.

Since Sir Alex became Manager at my beloved Manchester United in 1986 he has led the team to these triumphs:

10 Premier League Championships
5 FA Cup final wins
2 League Cup wins
2 European Champions League wins

There simply is no greater manager alive today in British football and I would argue there has never been a more successful manager in football.

The bad news for the rest of football is that Sir Alex at 66 years of age shows no signs of losing his appetite for winning.

Thank you Sir Alex. I hope even your greatest enemies will admit you deserve your success and celebrate this day of glory in your honour

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The 'men' who did this - an insult to my gender.

Computer generated graphics of Baby P's injuries

I have to say part of me didn't want to post this dreadful story but after giving it some thought I decided we need to publicly confront this sort of thing head on. I hope no readers of Simplicity Blog are upset by the graphic picture above or the content of this posting. Let me go on ...

I was reflecting a lot yesterday about the irony of life.

On Remembrance Day, 48 hours ago I was moved to tears through simply watching on TV the dignity of three men of 112, 110 and 108 as they proudly and emotionally presented their wreaths at the Cenotaph in London to remember their fallen comrades in World War One.

On that same day I am sad to say news broke here in the UK that a 17 month old baby boy known as Baby P for legal reasons had been killed by his mother, her boyfriend and another male as a result of systematic, brutal physical abuse over many months.

Here are some extracts from the BBC News Report:

*Baby P, died after suffering 50 injuries including a broken back, eight fractured ribs and extensive bruising.

*Jason Owen, 36, from Bromley, and a 32-year-old man were convicted of "causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable person".

*The boy's mother had already pleaded guilty to the same charge, and all three will be sentenced on 15 December.

*He had been on the register of at-risk children in Haringey, and before his death was visited 60 times in eight months by social workers, police and health professionals.

Click here if you wish to read more from the BBC Report

Two of these three people are described as ‘men’ which as far as I’m concerned is an insult to my gender.

So ... going back to my beginning about irony, what a contrast we have between five men:

3 genuine, heroic, brave, dignified gentlemen.

2 cowards.

Sometimes life is so hard to understand. I think of myself as a very tolerant person with experience of working for 10 years in mental health services and so I understand these people are actually sick. They have to be sick to do such things to an innocent, helpless young child.

Despite my considerable experience of mental health services, my natural forgiving nature and my Christian belief, I am stretched to find any words of compassion whatsoever toward these two human beings who are only ‘men’ biologically – these are not real men.

I pray they will reflect a lot about what they have done whilst they are in prison (they will be sentenced in December) which hopefully will be for a very long time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Henry Allingham

Harry Patch

Today is a very special day to take some quiet time and remember all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of Britain and indeed all who have died in wars regardless of their nationality. We particularly remember the 90
th Anniversary of the ending of the First World War.

Thee two pictures above say it all really

You can read more at this BBC News Link

112 year old Veteran Henry Allingham represents the Royal Air Force and 110 year old Harry Patch read the Act of Remembrance

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I watched the TV coverage of the US Presidential Election on Tuesday night through to 3 am Wednesday morning. I love to watch our UK General Election too - these are wonderful occasions because they represent the 'school report' by the people on our politicians for the four or five years they have been leading our country.

I believe, for many reasons, the victory of Mr Obama is momentous in historical terms and does represent more than a wind of change. The world needs hope right now and looking around I ask myself where is that hope to come from among our current leaders?

I was impressed with his statesmanship upon accepting the victory and also the gracious way in which Mr McCain accepted defeat. Both men emerge with much credit.

We all know that the work is only just beginning for Mr Obama but the word that will not go away in my head is 'hope' and in my opinion this man offers the world that at the very least.

I wish Mr Obama well .... and to all US Citizens, I think you have made the right choice.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Running for Carers

Annie and I are now committed to running the 26 miles (and a bit) London Marathon in April 2009 and our training regime has started in earnest.

We are aiming to raise £3000 for Carers UK – a campaigning organisation for unpaid family carers who look after people with an illness or disability.

A SECURE website has now been set up where anyone can sponsor us.

If you feel able to help us you will be helping more than 6 million carers in the UK.

Click here to sponsor our marathon run and please do leave us an encouraging message – we need it!

Can I also ask if you will pass on this to anyone you think maybe interested?

Thank you.