Sarah’s Got Style – And Substance

ACCLAIMED author Barbrara Taylor Bradford did not have Sarah Dawson in mind when she wrote her debut blockbuster novel in the late 1970s but there is little doubt the Manheim’s UK and International HR Director is A Woman of Substance.

Where Sarah and Emma Harte, the main character in the book, differ of course is while heroine Emma’s empire building was merely fictitious, Sarah’s rise into such a prominent position with the automotive products and services giant is very much fact.

Sarah, after meeting Naked Leader Founder David Taylor, has established a working relationship between the two companies, and is happy to share her thoughts to Naked Leader readers on just how she meets the challenges of her high-profile role.

Eliminating unnecessary meetings and removing time-wasting activities, while focusing on fast, true decisions, customising solutions to outcomes and having the right people and processes in place, are examples of her advice.

Given she is a talented businesswoman who has successfully negotiated the right balance in her personal and professional life, Sarah is well placed to offer tips on how to replicate her achievements in a tough business climate.

So what makes a great leader? Sarah believes the answer lies in the individual and asks others to give careful consideration to the following.

‘Nationality, sexuality, functionality, rationality, do these aspects really matter?’ she asks. ‘Do you have to go to Harvard, have an MBA, degree or have been on the latest seminar which has created a market to sell another management model and an idea? Is there a correlation between great leadership and education or is it that great leaders just know how to get great results?’

Listening to Sarah, it is clear she advocates the latter, and her strategy has helped her move forward in a Man’s world – that’s Man for Manheim by the way!

‘Is great leadership not as simple as defining your outcome and working out how to achieve it?’ she continues. ‘Whilst circumstances might change and you have to flex the way you achieve your end result don’t compromise on your outcome – focus on the end result.

‘Alleviate and get rid of unnecessary meetings and time-wasting activities and time wasting people.’

Sarah has little time for people who don’t contribute in a positive way and her views are forthright. We’ve already heard the don’ts. Here is her top-10 list of dos.

  1. Deal with poor performance quickly, ensure you have the right people and processes in place that enable, not disable.
  2. Offer reward for results and make fast, true decisions to achieve your outcomes.
  3. Recognise what you really need and not what you think you should have.
  4. Tailor your solution to your strategy and goal.
  5. Review your structure with a blank sheet of paper – if you could start again would you have the structure you have today to deliver the outcome you want?
  6. Paint pictures for your teams and show them the way, take them with you, don’t leave them behind.
  7. Measure your success by your employee engagement and profit.
  8. Take accountability and ownership and deliver every single day.
  9. Try not to lose your goal in a sea of ‘mission, vision and value mist’.
  10. Be honest and true to yourself, be prepared to flex and adapt if something isn’t working. Make the right decision – good leaders know what they are.

As well as her professional expertise, Sarah’s personal values stood her in good stead too in her climb up the corporate ladder.

‘Know yourself, know your people and do the right thing,’ she adds. ‘Remember you are employing someone’s son or daughter, and they might today or in the future be employing yours. Think about what sort of an organisation you want them to work in or to start up in.’

As for David, he is delighted to have linked up with the Manheim Group and with Sarah in particular. ‘She’s a straight talker, knows what she wants, and applies Naked Leader principles in their purest form,’ he says.

‘We are looking forward to working with her on two key projects in Manheim’s Sales and Operations departments, while there is the possibility of a further, massive project.’

‘Sarah is a very impressive leader. The automobile industry is very fast-moving, and as we continue our partnership with Ford Retail, we are very excited to be working with a complementary company.’

So, the link up between the two businesses looks set to be a profitable one and, just like a certain best-selling English novelist, you can be sure David and Sarah will be getting to the Harte of the matter.



9 Comments

  • Chris Everton

    Super article. that’s what you have to do to get on. Sarah Dawson comes out with some excellent advice.

  • Mary Hull

    Agreed, she shounds like she has enjoyed her rise too.
    It is inspiration people like this we should be listening too.

  • Mark Hammer

    Number 10 is my favourite. You have to be true to yourself. Otherwise what’s it all about.
    I found it interesting reading a celebrity’s lifestyle recently. He has to be someone else on camera, his public persona, that’s sad really.

  • Harry Peake

    Number six for me. painting pictures, visualisation, is so important.
    I love to practice that and it works in achieving goals.

  • Jamie Robb

    There are a number of striking points and Sarah is a guiding light to many if her views are as consistent as this.

  • Marcus Adams

    NL and Manheim sounds like a good match!

  • David Clark

    It sounds as though Sarah has that rare and elusive element missing from many thought leaders and ‘guru’s – the experience of great execution. Successful execution gets you to her level of influence.

  • BettyB

    Sarah is an inspiration. She believes in not only what she is doing, but what you are doing and wants to take you with her. She listens and gives you the confidence that ‘it’s not only about her’.
    At the same time, straight talking where it’s needed -sometimes you just have to say no!
    After 17 years with the Company I believe HR here has never looked so good!

  • Victoria Colclough

    As my leader and mentor, Sarah certainly is inspirational whilst pushing me and our team to be aspirational too. We never settle for “ok” and Sarah always asks “what next” and “what would it look like if we could!” Leadership and delivery is key and Sarah is a true leader, applying the values and principles as per the article, always being true to herself, her own values and the team. Thank you.

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