Leadership: To infinity and beyond …

Leadership: To infinity and beyond …


What constitutes a good leader? The response you might have received 10 or 20 years ago would have been very different to today’s answer. At Norman Broadbent we seek to answer this question every day as we work to identify, engage and assess those individuals who can help our clients take their business forward into 2019 and beyond.

So what does “Good” look like?

As you’d expect, it varies enormously. It changes from one client to another, from industry to industry, country to country, and even from division to division. In times of change within, say, a large organisation, it evolves as needs shift over time. A candidate rejected by one business due to perceived lack of impact and gravitas, for example, may be sought by another business where there is a “cultural fit” with the candidate’s collegiate, collaborative, non-hierarchical style.  Nuances aside however, the following traits have formed the basis for many of our Searches across the Retail & Consumer Practice recently:

  • The ability to inspire, motivate, lead and engage people at all levels. This is not just within a leader’s own direct sphere of influence/remit, but also across broader communities such as shareholders, customers, JV partners, key suppliers, external opinion formers, and peers.


  • The ability to bring clarity and direction during periods of significant change, ambiguity and uncertainty. Even before Brexit, leaders within the Consumer/Retail sectors were faced with a rapidly evolving landscape; the need to manage uncertainty and change is more important than ever before.


  • This leads me neatly on to the final trait – agility. With the ever-increasing pace of change within these sectors, strategy must keep pace or risk becoming a millstone around the neck of a business. There is little sense in sticking doggedly to a mid-term plan which is already outdated. Indeed, a CEO recently commented to me that – for his organisation – the three-year strategy was rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Instead, he sets an annual strategy which is regularly reviewed and updated.

Whilst it is true that the above are obvious traits, it is also true that it is rare to find them neatly packaged within a single leader. This is particularly apposite as today’s CEOs are being asked to deal with situations where there is no roadmap, and for which their previous experience and training may count for little.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, or discuss a specific assignment, please do not hesitate to contact Lucie Shaw (Director – Retail, Consumer & Leisure Practice) on +44 (0) 20 7484 0022 or via lucie.shaw@normanbroadbent.com for an initial confidential discussion.