In his leader’s speech to this year’s virtual Conservative Party conference, prime minister Boris Johnson has pledged to beat Covid-19 and build a better UK. Meanwhile, Dan Williams, managing director at award-winning private label cosmetic manufacturing company, Orean Personal Care, discusses the need for today’s leaders to prioritise people and their development.
Leadership in Focus
Sitting down with Leaders Council interviewer Matthew O’Neill, Dan Williams, who first joined Orean as commercial director in 2012 before becoming MD in 2019, emphasised that business leaders have a responsibility to look after their workforce, understand what motivates them and try to make their working routine as productive and as a enjoyable as possible to enable them to thrive.
Williams said: “A leader has a lot of responsibility. Our business looks after 160 employees and they are who we put first in the business. It is about leading them and taking on responsibility for them. Trying to understand what makes each individual ticks is a challenge, and we try and understand the intrinsic drivers for all of them, and we try to make their working day as enjoyable as possible.”
When asked by Matthew O’Neill to describe his leadership style, Williams explained that his model of leadership and indeed his ideal view of it was to lead with energy and enthusiasm in a collaborative way.
He said: “My own leadership style is energetic, motivational, and enthusiastic. I operate with integrity, get across who I am and try to be authentic with who I am and get good people on board with the same journey I am going on. It is very collaborative approach to leadership that I take.”
Reflecting on his earlier life and the influences behind his view on leadership, Williams added: “Looking back to when I was a child, I was never the best footballer but ended up being the captain of my school team because I was good at motivating people. Later in my career I was more surrounded by people I didn’t look up to and respect so much, and it was really through reading and looking into pep talks where I found the characteristics that I wanted to adopt in working life so they really influenced me.
“Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek was very important at this point in my life and was like a living mentor for me. It’s important to take the good and the bad from leaders you encounter and use it to shape yourself and your own style.”
Even with such a collaborative style of leadership, looking after such a large workforce means that conflict within the workplace is sometimes an inevitability. However, rather then looking to suppress conflict as and when it arises, Williams stressed that leaders have a responsibility to encourage conflict in a healthy manner and use it to benefit the team and the business as a whole. For this to work to the best possible effect, trust is paramount.
Williams explained: “Where conflicts do arise, we encourage healthy conflict. This isn’t easy, but as a business we have spent a lot of time over the last couple of years working on building trust. With a solid basis of trust, you are much more likely to have healthy conflicts and discuss different positive aspects of moving forward. This way, our people appreciate that difficult conversations have to be had as to the direction we are going in, and they relish them.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson has promised to build a “new Jerusalem” in the UK as the country recovers from Covid-19, which will bring opportunities for all as well as improvements in healthcare and housing.
Making his speech to the virtual Conservative Party conference, Johnson said that the country could not return to normal after Covid-19 but promised that the nation would beat the disease and put an end to the “erosion of liberties” that restrictions to curb the virus’ spread had caused.
Johnson said: "Even in the darkest moments we can see the bright future ahead. And we can see how to build it and we will build it together."
He added that the pandemic would be beaten by the “collective effort” of everyone, and that he has seen “more than enough” of the virus and vowed that it would not be allowed to “hold us back our slow us down”.
Explaining that the UK would not be “content” with a mere “repair job” post-Covid, Johnson said that the country would become a “world leader” in green energy with £160 million of investment in ports and factories to increase generation of offshore wind power.
Other pledges included fixing the “injustice” of care home funding which had been amplified by the pandemic, increasing housebuilding by overhauling the planning system and improving access to low-deposit mortgages for first-time buyers of homes.
For education, the PM said that wider access to one-to-one tutoring would be explored to help pupils who had fallen behind in their studies during lockdown, to avoid their attainment prospects being hampered.
Reflecting on how his government had responded to the pandemic, Johnson told the conference that ministers had no alternative but to bring in measures to safeguard business and prop-up the economy, even though such action would normally “go against our instincts”.
He also urged people not to come to the “wrong” conclusion that expanding the role of the state in this way would be good for the country in future.
The PM declared: "There are many who regard this state expansion as progress, who want to keep the state supporting furlough forever, keep people in suspended animation.
"We Conservatives believe that way lies disaster, and that we must build back better by becoming more competitive, both in tax and regulation."
Referring back to Britain’s recovery from the economic effects of World War II, Johnson continued: “In 1942 when just about everything had gone wrong, the government sketched out a vision of the post-war new Jerusalem that they wanted to build.
"And that is what we are doing now - in the teeth of this pandemic. We are resolving not to go back to 2019, but to do better: to reform our system of government; to renew our infrastructure; to spread opportunity more widely and fairly and to create the conditions for a dynamic recovery that is led not by the state but by free enterprise."
The prime minister also used the speech to hit out at critics of his government’s leadership during his pandemic, and rubbished the idea that his own personal battle with Covid-19, which saw him spend a week in hospital, had softened him.
“I have read a lot of nonsense recently, about how my own bout of Covid has somehow robbed me of my mojo. And of course this is self-evident drivel, the kind of seditious propaganda that you would expect from people who don't want this government to succeed, who wanted to stop us delivering Brexit and all our other manifesto pledges.”
Leadership in History
October 7 is a key day in the history of the aviation industry. In 1919, Dutch flag carrier KLM was founded, and remains to this day the oldest airline operating under its original name.
On this day in 1933, Air France was formed following a merger of Air Orient, Air Union, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne [CIDNA], and Société Générale de Transport Aérien [SGTA]. Air France would serve as the primary national flag carrier for France until 2003, when it merged with KLM.
In 1959, Soviet probe Luna 3 transmitted the first-ever photographs of the far side of the Moon.*
On October 7, 1996, the American multinational conservative cable news television channel Fox News Channel first began broadcasting to 17 million cable subscribers.*
*Source: Harvey, Brian (2007). Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration. Springer-Praxis. p. 38.
**Source: King, Angela G. (October 7, 1996). "Fox Hunts TV News Niche with Channel Debut Today" New York Daily News.