Leslie Bland
Leslie Bland

„People work for people not organisations“

Leslie Bland, angel investor and mentor

Experienced Chairman and CEO with a proven track record in financial services in the UK and internationally at senior level. Running and growing profitable businesses both organically and by acquisition. Very strong marketing, sales and interpersonal skills. He has appeared regularly on TV business programmes ( BBC Money Programme) and published articles on a wide range of business topics. Now retired he is an angel investor and mentors around 7 small businesses through his vehicle “Making Dreams Come True“. In addition he advises Charities on Fund Raising – Vision Aid Overseas, Gurkha Trust etc.

What do you love about your job?

In a long career in finance and business, I have enjoyed seeing junior people develop and grow beyond their own personal view of themselves. I have been successfully growing businesses both by mergers, acquisitions and organically (natural growth).

Currently, I enjoy the challenge of teaching entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and to mentor them in the importance of clear strategy, cash flow management and the importance of sales and marketing – what gets measured gets done!!

What was the best advice you ever received about leadership?

Always lead enthusiastically from the front, and encourage team spirit. Recognise and reward success. Listen to colleagues and subordinates and inspire them to be focussed and motivated to perform the job in hand. Praise and be careful about criticising and do not be afraid of making mistakes. Provide support to your subordinates in both their personal and private life. Develop their self confidence and encourage a pro active approach to decision making. Be seen on the shop floor – as Tom Peters, the USA consultant would say practice „Management By Walking About „(MBWA)

What is a good leader?

Someone who inspires his men, leads from the front. Who is tactically and strategically clever and is conscious at all times of their personal needs. Who uses his initiative and is prepared to take important decisions when necessary against the established policy.

My time at Dartmouth Naval College for Officer training and my time in the Royal Navy was a major influence in my career and teaching me about leadership. For me, Admiral Lord Nelson encapsulates the best in leadership qualities – personal charisma, charm enthusiasm together with tactical brilliance and strategic thinking which inspired his officers and men.

To sum up  –  Leadership is to create an inspiring vision that is shared by the team, encourages the team to share and engage with the vision and strategy. Motivates people to achieve delivery of the strategy and then develops and coaches the team to achieve levels of success above their normal level of expectation.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take leadership seriously?

Study the great leaders of history and develop the qualities of drive, energy and leading by example.

Above all spend time with people on the shop floor and be seen. People work for people not organisations and have a loyalty to the Leader who cares about them and successfully delivers the corporate strategy and vision which they can share in.