INSPIRATIONAL speakers who created the ‘wow’ factor. That was the message which came across loud and clear from delegates at Naked Leader’s Conference 2014, held at London’s Cumberland Hotel.
And more, after all, there is no point in being ‘inspired’ if you are not going to do anything about it. So, with the theme ‘Leadership that Makes and Saves You Money’ Naked Leader Founder David Taylor started his keynote by promising that if every single leader attending did not make and save at least five times their total investment in being there, Naked Leader would come in to their company free of charge to help ensure they do.
David was relying on high-powered luminaries James Eder, Andrew Marks, Pauline Hogg, Stuart Mustoe and Alan Hughes – all extraordinary leadership specialists in their own field – be it in IT, HR, Sales, Management, sharing how to drive and protect the value of your business, and the value of your people, through a plethora of proven and practical “How Tos”.
The speakers contributed to a fascinating and interactive event, effortlessly compered by Gavin Preston, and enjoyed by more than 100 attendees representing a vibrant mix of world-class brands, among them Caterpillar, Veolia and Unilever.
Naked Leader Expert Bob Perry shared enlightening, insightful How Tos on getting into the right state for those meetings that may make or save you money. THE right state, as opposed to ‘A right state.’
The morning also included a debate between Professor of Marketing for Ulster Business School, Mark Durkin, and David Taylor. David proposed ‘Experience makes Education irrelevant’ especially when it comes to making and saving money.
There were memorable lines from Mark, including the moment he showed examples of people who you wouldn’t want to be ‘learning by doing’ on the job. Such as a surgeon performing an operation. ‘You wouldn’t want him learning to do his doings on you,’ he said, adding with a smile – and with one of his many witty quips – ‘perhaps that didn’t come out quite right!’
David, himself a Visiting Professor at Ulster Business School and Warwick University, countered: ‘No-one is going to call you into their office and say “I’m not going to give you a salary increase because you didn’t understand The Taming of the Shrew”.’
The votes from the floor went with David – just!
Light-hearted, brilliantly delivered, and with a serious message – the Conference was a hit!
And don’t just take my word for it.
On the unorthodox education/experience exchange between Mark and David, David Brooks, from the Food Brands Group, commented: ‘It was a really good debate.
‘I’m in charge of Percol Coffee. We’re an an ethically traded coffee group and we work with the big retailers. And it was just quite interesting because although I’m degree educated, I think it’s all about people buying from people and keeping things really simple and not complicating it too much.
‘I am 100% on the side of David [Experience] because it’s a no-brainer for me. I’d rather have somebody who comes in and gets stuff done.
‘And if they make some mistakes then that’s fine. Experience is how you learn. The surgeon was a good example of one of two counters, as clearly there are certain roles where you cannot learn on the job.
‘Number two is you have to be able to read, write and do maths, so I get that side of the argument. On balance though, in the environment we’re in, in terms of getting stuff done and doing it quickly in order to deliver value in an ethically sustainable way, I’d rather have someone who is willing to learn and make mistakes and be part of a team and keep it simple.
‘It was an invigorating debate and it inspired me to make the comment. There was a buzz in the room.’
So how did others enjoy their day?
Well, there was plenty of support for Andrew, CIO of Tullow Oil, and voted European CIO of the Year 2014. He explained how IT can show you the money. Having presented a value-led strategy at Tullow which took his team forward and demonstrated an underlying focus on value, he shared the secret of his success with attendees. He revealed how he transformed his organisation by asking questions, delving deeper. ‘With information, follows value,’ he said. ‘Before, our team were just doing “stuff”. Now it’s why are we doing it?’
Lorna Kujawa, from Atos, said: ‘I wanted a new angle on leadership and maybe to learn a bit about myself. I had a lightbulb moment in one of the presentations, about myself and how my career is going. It was really interesting.
And Andy Payne, from The Post Office, added: ‘The speakers were very motivational.’
Joseph Brewer, from Vector Aerospace was looking to widen his knowledge, being on the company’s graduate scheme. ‘We are a maintenance repair and overhaul company for engines and helicopter services,’ he explained.
”The company are trying to develop me and so I got the invite. I like watching people presenting and getting information across because that’s one of things I’m trying to work on, I enjoyed the day.’
Yasmine Ruemker, from Caterpillar Marine, was with colleagues experiencing Naked Leader for the first time.
‘It is very energising,’ she said. ‘My goal, personally, before I came here was to try and zoom out more and get the bigger picture, not to get caught up in the detail. The business is growing so it’s important to not focus on individuals but really focusing more holistically.
‘I’ve enjoyed it and there was a great atmosphere in the room.’
So, your future – what are you doing about it? Will you take it, lead it? If so why not book yourself on next year’s Naked Leader Conference on Thursday 15 October 2015?
If you are serious about leadership, can you afford not to?