Over the last few years I’ve been really interested in Allan Leighton and his approach to leadership. I was an Asda colleague in the days when he pulled the company back from the brink of collapse – and when the auditorium in Asda House was bizarrely known as the Tomato Room!
Not only is he a “pluralist” (i.e. he has a string of directorships), he happily gets involved at ground level… most famously having tasted the dog food while he was at Mars.
The issues at Royal Mail (over pay, pensions shortfall, changes to working practices and job losses) are probably the most challenging he has ever faced; yet he is facing them head on. Leighton sees the underlying issue as being about sort term pain for long term gain.
On Leadership he says: “Good leaders have, first of all, to be resilient. second, they have to focus on the right thing – what’s right in the mid term, however painful that is going to be in the short term, And third, good leaders must communicate the message as oftern as they can, and remember that leadership is not a popularity contest….. The best way to learn is to simply watch others – to see the good and bad, take the bits you like and that fit with your perosnality and style… and copy them shamelessly.”