Today I spotted on LinkedIn that one of my former graduate trainees recruited in 2007 whilst interim MD at WSP Knowledge Solutions has today reached the lofty heights of Associate Director. I cannot tell how pleasing this is to read that someone you put faith in has progressed through the male dominated hierarchy of engineering and reached the place you knew she could reach.
There is nothing more satisfying in my career to see and help those who want it reach their full potential. I hold dear to my heart that everyone needs a business mentor or coach, a go to person who can help you get through the good and bad times and help you reach your full potential. I was lucky to have such a mentor.
When I was left with 60 millions calls and £60 million calls to try and answer when I walked in the door at the National Rail Enquiry Service I was frankly overawed by the size of the task. I went to the COO and said Alec we need some help, someone with “big call centre operational experience” what we got was Steve Kenny, a man who until his recent retirement (1997) was responsible for BT 151 fault call centre operation. Steve was a big guy in call centres but also a big guy in statue as well but a man with a big heart. Steve was not your typical management consultant but a guy who became a friend for life. To the extent I even steal his phrases. When I use the phrase “You are pushing against an open door “ and raise my hand to acknowledge it that is straight out of Steve Kenny’s locker. I smile and wink to Steve when I use it the man has a legacy.
Steve had a wealth of experience but also a pragmatic way of working that rubbed off on me, he gave me poetic licence to learn and fail and then with his big grin say “what trouble are you in now Nigel” Steve had no children but coaching and mentoring came naturally to him and quickly I became friends with Steve and his wife Yonis. Steve even moved from Norwood to my native Devon and having not seen him for a few years I was in a café in Crediton and I heard the booming voice in a South London accent behind me saying “That must be Gooding in front of me” I turned around and hugged the man who helped me help myself to get to where I am now. I do not realise it at the time back in 1997 but Steve was my mentor.
Alas Steve passed away a few years and I was devastated that I had lost my “business dad” If it were not for Steve encouragement I would not be doing what I do now. I would still in his words “Nigel, slow down and stop talking in riddles” Steve gave me the confidence to take risks and learn from them and when things went wrong allowed me to understand where we could get it right for the next time. I hope Steve’s skills have rubbed off on me and I am able to transfer my knowledge, skills, experience and one - liners to those who work with me.
As a leader you need to make an impression that allows people to develop and your role is to coach and mentor them to allow them to grow and aspire. This is your legacy. This happens naturally in the workplace if you get it right, people follow you, have trust in you to ask for your help and your confidence to shape their lives. Our job as leaders is to grow our people and form life long relationships with those who grow thanks to you.
Nigel Gooding MCMI is managing partner at Fifth Consultancy and a leading business transformation professional who lists the National Rail Enquiry Service, the new MPs Expenses Scheme amongst his impressive CV.