Beauty Kitchen founder champions importance of collaboration as PM makes visit to Scotland

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on July 23rd 2020, 12:12pm

As the Covid-19 situation has wore on over the course of 2020, many commentators have spoken of the fact that the experience of going through a crisis has created a sense of unity within UK communities. This same sentiment of togetherness has also been seen in businesses up and down the country as they have charted their own course through the pandemic, with support from the government’s economic measures.

For Joanne Chidley, the founder of beauty product retailer Beauty Kitchen UK Ltd, it was important to establish a sense of unity early on by engaging with her staff and making sure their response to the crisis was a collaborative one. This week, prime minister Boris Johnson has also championed the need for unity in saying that the “sheer might” of the union between the UK’s constituent countries has been laid bare by the nation’s response to the pandemic ahead of Thursday’s trip to Scotland, where he aims to promote the merits of being one country amid a rising sentiment of Scottish nationalism.

Leadership in Focus

Speaking on the Leaders Council podcast, Beauty Kitchen founder Joanne Chidley spoke of unity as a key element within business.

“In the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic as the prospect of a lockdown became more apparent, we made sure that we involved everyone at Beauty Kitchen in drawing up our response. Being an SME of 14 people, this was perhaps somewhat more straightforward than may be the case with larger corporate entities.

“People work in a team environment, so having everyone involved in decisions shows effective leadership. As a business leader, you must empower those within the team and let them take the lead when appropriate. But the buck stops with you so as leader you have to manage risk and decision making and know when perhaps one course of action might not be the best one.”

Chidley describes herself as an action-orientated leader who is proactive and likes to have long-term plans in place, but equally stressed the importance of not being too rigid and being able to be reactive where required. In the case of Covid-19, Chidley herself was forced to react quickly and make decisions with the wellbeing of staff and the wider community in mind.

In Chidley’s view, being able to be decisive in acting with a clear plan that her staff could get behind was all important. Indeed, a clear plan is one means of providing a way forward and some reassurance amid a great deal of uncertainty.

“Leaders must have the capacity to be both proactive and reactive depending on the situation. I am action orientated given the nature of my business, but when the wellbeing of my staff and community is a concern, for me it was important to take a moment of reflection and gather what I could to enable me to make decisions that would work for the good of the business during this time.

“Your approach as a leader should be to make a decision and have a plan that people can support and follow. People have looked for a voice of reason throughout this pandemic to reassure them that what they are doing is right. Hindsight is a wonderful thing in this respect of course and it is easy to retrospectively say that things could be done differently, but if you don’t act and don’t reassure people in the here and now and take the big decisions, that lack of action and indecisiveness will be remembered in a negative way.”

Leadership Today

Unity and collaboration have been championed a great deal in business during this time, and the same can certainly be set for government.

Prior to Thursday’s visit to Scotland which marks one year since he became prime minister, Boris Johnson has looked to promote the union of the UK, declaring that its collective response has helped preserve 900,000 jobs north of the border.

The PM plans to meet with members of the armed forces in Scotland and their families during his stay, and has been full of praise for the work of British troops in supporting the NHS during the lockdown period.

Reiterating a promise to be a “prime minister for every corner of the UK”, Johnson said: "The last six months have shown exactly why the historic and heartfelt bond that ties the four nations of our country together is so important and the sheer might of our union has been proven once again.

"In Scotland, the UK's magnificent armed forces have been on the ground doing vital work to support the NHS, from setting up and running mobile testing sites to airlifting critically-ill patients to hospitals from some of Scotland's most remote communities.

"And the UK Treasury stepped in to save the jobs of a third of Scotland's entire workforce and kept the wolves at bay for tens of thousands of Scottish businesses.

"More than ever, this shows what we can achieve when we stand together, as one United Kingdom."

However, the SNP - which of course holds a very different view over the union - is doubtful of the motives behind Johnson’s trip, suggesting that Westminster is concerned about the rise in Scottish nationalism.

Westminster has taken the lead on the majority of the UK’s economic response to the pandemic, including the introduction of the job retention scheme, while the devolved administrations have been in charge of their own regional public health measures and have set their own timetables on the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, SNP leader in Westminster Ian Blackford said: "Yesterday the Tory party held a political cabinet with the prime minister in a panic about the majority in increasing support for Scottish independence. Apparently, their great strategy amounts to more UK cabinet ministers coming to Scotland.

"Can I tell the prime minister - the more Scotland sees of this UK government, the more convinced they are of the need for Scotland's independence."

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested previously that Holyrood’s response to the Covid-19 crisis was helping convince Scottish citizens of the viability of independence.

Speaking in a special interview marking her 50th birthday on Sunday, Sturgeon said: "As we have stopped shouting about independence, and shouting to ourselves about how we go about getting independence, and just focused on [dealing with the crisis] it has allowed people to take a step back and say 'well actually that's the benefit of autonomous decision-making' and also 'perhaps things would be better if we had a bit more autonomous decision-making,' and to come to their own conclusions."

Ahead of the prime minister’s visit, Sturgeon tweeted on Thursday morning: “I welcome the PM to Scotland today.

“One of the key arguments for independence is the ability of Scotland to take our own decisions, rather than having our future decided by politicians we didn’t vote for, taking us down a path we haven’t chosen. His presence highlights that.”

Leadership in History

On this day in 1974, the military government in Greece collapsed with the former conservative prime minister Constantine Karamanlis invited to return as the nation transferred back to democracy.

Karamanlis was prime minister for an unprecedented eight years until the centre-left won power in the country's previous democratic election in 1963. Karamanlis then went into self-imposed exile in France before the military junta led by Colonel Papadopoulos, Colonel Makarezos and Brigadier Pattakos then took power in April 1967. 

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
July 23rd 2020, 12:12pm

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