Creating the IT Factor

SOME people have IT and some people don’t. As an Information Technology director for a £350m turnover company, Chris Airey has IT in abundance. And he is a shining example of someone who benefited from the Naked Leader concept in helping to gel a highly-skilled, yet fragmented workforce.

Chris is a major player in Home Delivery Network Ltd (HDNL), the UK’s largest dedicated home delivery and collection service, which delivers 300,000 parcels and large consignments to every postcode, every day. The company delivers parcels on behalf of major high street, online and television retailers, including four out of five of the UK’s most used home delivery retailers.

HDNL has invested heavily in IT in order to deliver an outstanding, award-winning service to its customers and Chris had the daunting – and exciting – task of creating an IT capability from scratch. Employing a diverse group of people was only the start. With a 120-strong workforce under his wing he felt it was important to create a like-minded culture – which is where Naked Leader founder David Taylor came in.

‘Communication and consultation is key and while we have people with a range of skills and experience, I felt we needed a standard culture on how we do things,’ says Chris. ‘These are people who have never worked together before. I didn’t feel there was a sense of belonging so it was important to invest in a leadership ethos and immersion in the business strategy. We wanted to inject some ownership and that’s where David helped us. I arranged for 26 of our leaders, those involved in the day-to-day dynamics of the company, to spend a day with David.’

And Chris says the company has reaped the benefits of David’s involvement. ‘A lot of our workers had been with other companies and when they came to us they were all at sea in terms of there not being a regimented culture,’ he adds.

‘So we put that in place and David explained about the need for individuals to take responsibility. I call it the British they culture. They’ll do this, and when will they do that? When actually it’s about growing up and doing it yourself. To take ownership. And to do that you have to communicate and accept you are the leader.’

That seems a clear message. So would Chris recommend Naked Leader input to other companies? ‘In my view, we had objectives for the day and they were all met,’ he says. ‘I have seen a visible change as there has been a lot more verbal communication. We have also introduced a buddy system to help with social networking as an aid to keep “you are the leader” at the front of minds. And we have arranged a follow-up. We will have a get together and I will ask them one by one just how they have delivered the leadership promise they made with David.’

David adds: ‘Chris is a business focussed IT leader and having brought together a new team he needed to tackle the issues it can create, such as communication. I was delighted to help. We had an Open Day where I involved them in frank and honest discussion about how they could be viewed as a role model. They developed an understanding of ownership and responsibility during the day and each one of them took a true decision. I’m glad Chris felt my input was rewarding.’

For more information on leadership days with a Naked Leader expert, contact Rosalind Howard on 01483 766502 or email

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