“Naked Leader would not be what it is today, without her.”
The rushing to catch a flight words of Naked Leader Founder David Taylor, about Rosalind Howard, CEO of Naked Leader. He added:
“Rosalind has been CEO of Naked Leader for three years – the most successful period in the company’s history, so far.”
He concluded with one of his characteristic jokes – “now, there’s a coincidence!”
Almost every book on starting a company makes the same recommendation – if you are The Founder, be The Founder, and when established, hand over the leadership reins to someone who is better able to take the company to its next level.
Rosalind sees her main role as helping the Naked Leader team to be the very best they already are – the Naked Leader ethos – leading her team to provide hands-on support for NL Coaches.
An engaging smile can get you only so far and there is no doubt that Rosalind is a woman of substance. She is passionate about the Naked Leader brand, people and above all, Client Partners.
Major clients include Ford Retail, Veolia and Tullow Oil. As Rosalind describes it: “we are a niche company – we only partner with leaders who are ready for fast, lasting and measurable change – if they can’t make and save more money than they invest with us, then we won’t work with them.”
I suggest to Rosalind that David is the figurehead of the company. She puts it differently: “Of our message – that everything you need, to achieve anything you want, you already have within you – that is the key, and David champions that.”
I ask Rosalind about her role: ‘I am a hands-on CEO and like to know what’s happening at the grass-roots level, I go and see Client Partners when I can and while our coaches are the experts in what we deliver, I lead a team that is behind the scenes, attracting and selecting the right Clients, making sure we have good systems and supporting our Coaches.’
‘We are a smallish company and we have the same issues as a larger business in that it is tough to manage growth through a difficult time, we’re currently recruiting a Client Relationship Manager to join our small team and it’s challenging to find the right person’ adds Rosalind.
‘I make sure our staff know where we are and work as one with our marketing, social media and events experts to spread the message and grow brand awareness.’
Those seminars, workshops, events, call them what you will, are mission critical, as Rosalind explains: ‘It is how we showcase what we do. It is so much more powerful to show what we do, rather than just talk about it. The events are not profit making, and show what we are able to deliver on personal, practical and professional levels, as well as being an opportunity for us to network and engage with people.
‘We run in-house courses, all with our own specialists who are immensely experienced facilitators in Naked Leader coaching techniques.
‘We don’t employ trainers and, unlike public workshops that tend to stick to an agenda, we are more interactive. We don’t deal in hypothetical situations, we use authentic ones and people can go away and apply the techniques they have learned in their businesses and personal lives.
‘Real play, not role play, is one of our unique selling points. We don’t like letting anybody down and we treat clients fairly and always go that extra mile for them. People love what we do and they come back for more.’
Pride in the business is a fundamental part of Rosalind’s DNA and a network of coaches play a huge part in delivering the Naked Leader message. She adds: ‘I’m proud that we look after our coaches really well.
‘We provide them with all they need, manage their administration and make sure they are de-briefed after meetings and events. We help our clients deliver outstanding communication, so it wouldn’t be very clever if we didn’t practice what we preach. I believe you can never over communicate.’
‘We are also dedicated to helping our staff, with flexible working where needed, for instance with parents who need time off at short notice. People can work for us while enjoying their families which is so important.’
I now share with Rosalind what David said about her. She laughs.
‘David is a phenomenal facilitator, speaker and coach,’ she says. ‘He is the best I’ve seen, so engaging with an audience and he is the most challenging too without ever making them feel uncomfortable.
‘He builds an instant rapport with people and within 30 seconds of meeting them he is their best friend. He is also receptive to feedback and is never precious about things we might point out that he can improve upon. He has built on that feedback to become even better.’
‘Naked Leader Weekly has grown in popularity and readership around the world. My team always review it in advance and sometimes David’s idea or version is, how can I put this…a bit boring and so it is rejected’
She smiles at this as if she is picturing David’s reaction.
I raise the Elephant in the Room, by asking whether Rosalind’s team uses this technique which Naked Leader has made its own in work with clients.
‘Oh absolutely’ Rosalind smiles again, ‘we don’t bother with an elephant, we go for it full on. What is going well, what is not. It is the most uncomfortable, cathartic and helpful way of sharing.’