Business, Cambridge, For Purpose

Leadership is an interesting concept.

So much is being written these days about what a true leader is and isn’t. How they operate and how they interact with their teams and colleagues. The focus is now on human leadership, moving people from the system constructed management of days gone by. A large part of my LinkedIn feed is articles and memes about this and bookshop shelves are full of leadership manuals. Leadership seems to be the generic topic people wish to be seen as experts on, almost leaders in the leadership space.

I’m not knocking the current thoughts and opinions, we all want strong leadership in our organisations, from governance through to the ‘coal face’. Forgetting about business for a minute, the world would be a better place if more leaders took on-board some of this advice.

The thing that strikes me is how limited a lot of this information is. It focuses on leading teams and organisations. To me, this inwards focus doesn’t show people the full potential of effective leadership.

As a true leader, you need to see your role wider than just how well your organisation operates. Your organisation, if full of leaders, should itself become a leader in its own right.

I’m not talking about leading the competition, market leaders, the leading supplier of…, I’m talking about how your organisation can show true leadership, guiding and encouraging others on the journeys that are important to you.

An easy example of what I mean is the Chamber itself. Tania and the Executive must show leadership within the organisation – but they must also show leadership in the local business community. For them, there is literally no point effectively leading their own organisation unless they are also successful in leading business prosperity in Cambridge. Their leadership skills directly benefit us.

If we look past the aspect of direct competition, we all benefit when we have strong, successful businesses (and organisations). None of us operate alone; we’re all part of this big eco-system broadly called the economy. The more successful our customers are, the more we can sell. We need our suppliers to be successful to maintain continuity of supply. Our neighbouring businesses may employ our children or solve one of our problems.

You can show leadership by talking to peer organisations, your customers and your suppliers; engaging with the people within those organisations, hearing their stories and seeing where you can journey together on more than just business matters.

Leadership involves helping others to achieve their goals, it’s about finding common passions and it’s about shared visions. This is all done between people but there is no law to say those people have to be part of the same organisation.

In business, as in life, it’s about growing the pie not just growing your piece of that pie. True leaders look for success for everyone by working together, sharing their dreams and by recognising true leadership is more than leading a single team.

It’s more than just business.

If you care about the environment, you can lead your team to manage your own recycling or you could empower them to also help guide other businesses to share your environmental passion.

If you believe businesses can help support healthy, robust communities then your whole organisation should be leading the way. Share the story and show others how you support your community, talk about the benefits and explore how you can assist them on their own journeys.

Leadership is about shared strength and if we want to live in a great world, we all need to take the responsibility for strengthen those around us. If you think you have great leadership skills, then prove it! Show the world how you can lead more than one team or one organisation. Share those skills and build those skills in others. Be proactive in your sector and your community.

True leaders are conduits for change.

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Business, Cambridge

Cambridge Taking on the World

This is an article I wrote for the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. I want to share it because the core theme applies to so many communities.

Businesses can, and must, be a key part of thriving, sustainable communities.

 

“I’ve noticed something about business in Cambridge recently and it excites me. We all know that the town is growing and growing fast but despite this, we are more than ever a business community.

Our Chamber is to the fore of this activity, not only regularly getting good attendances at its events but also for associated groups such as Optimum and 1st XV. The I-Site has become more prominent, BNI groups are going well and elite sport is providing so many new opportunities to leverage off similar organisations.

We talk to each other about our businesses, we openly share information and happily lend a hand when needed.

Sometimes it’s easy to look around and wonder what’s happened to our little town. So many new faces and so many new businesses. Busy streets and even traffic lights, we’ve come a long way from the days when the state highway went through the main street and we had sale yards down Carters Flat. Often growth can lead to that big city feel where everyone looks after themselves and other businesses are simply classified as the competition. I believe we’ve done the opposite and actually strengthened our community. This is why I’m excited.

At CSC Buying Group our passion for supporting thriving communities has become our purpose, with “Building Richer Communities” our new mission statement. In an increasingly diverse digital world, we see this as more necessary now than ever before. Like any community, businesses need to support each other and play a part in sustaining that community.

Buying local, employing locals and advocating for our local businesses should continue to be at the core of what we do. The question we should be asking now is how can we take this further?

For me, it’s about ensuring that we continually expand the size of the pie, not competing for a larger piece of what is already there. We need to strive to earn business from outside of Cambridge, even exporting for the ultimate ‘outside’ money.

There’s some great examples of this in Cambridge, some are very well known while others are quietly achieving well out of the limelight. We now need to grow the numbers doing this.

Obviously business growth also leads to employment meaning our town becomes far more economically sustainable, and let’s not forget the social benefits of full employment.

Singly we may be small but uniting and working together, we can get the scale to compete with the big city slickers – in their back yards. We all need to challenge ourselves and seek ways we can make this happen. Let’s talk unashamedly about Cambridge businesses taking on the world!

Finally, as we start to enjoy the benefits of growth, let us never forget what makes us unique … the village that is a growing community.”

The Chamber News is always a great read. Tania and the team do an amazing job with it. Read more

 

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