image for The simple way to better leadership

The simple way to better leadership

This week we kicked off a new series of Vision events with a lively session on leadership with one of Europe's top leadership experts, Steve Radcliffe. Speaking to a packed room, Steve shared his straightforward approach to better leadership.

Published on Tuesday, 13th February 2018

Over 70 people, including consultants and leaders from a range of agencies, attended the sold-out event, keen to hear from the author of the UK’s top leadership book, Leadership Plain and Simple.

An experienced speaker, Steve Radcliffe has shared the stage with the likes of David Cameron and Lord Coe and appeared as a leadership expert on the BBC News, so we were excited to welcome him for the first of our monthly Vision events.

Getting into the mindset of a leader

Steve quickly set the pace for the session with a relaxed style, welcoming audience interaction and setting regular talking points for break-out discussions in small groups. He got us started with a discussion about what holds us back from being a leader.

“In operator and manager roles we are focussed on the present, but in leader mode our mindset needs to be in the future,” Steve explained. “Think about what pulls you back from leader mode and takes you into being an operator or manager in your day-to-day life at work?”

Your three main leadership muscles

With the audience well warmed up, Steve introduced his simple approach – as leaders we need to use three core muscles: future; engage; and deliver. This forms the basis of his FED approach to powerful leadership.

He explained that the ‘future’ part of the model is all about learning to “think big and have a vision”. The next group discussion challenged us to tell one another what we care about and what matters to us. “You need to be in touch with this to do well as a leader,” said Steve. “One way to allow yourself to think big in future is to free yourself of the present – don’t be held back by it.”

The engage part is all about getting people to come with you – and that means understanding what matters to them and what makes them feel valued. How you listen is much more important than how you speak, and a key part of engagement is avoiding ‘transmitting’.

When people understand the future vision and are engaged with it, the third part – delivery – should come naturally.

Find out more about Steve’s Future, Engage, Deliver approach on the FED website.

Top five takeaways

The session was varied and gave us a lot to think about – here are our five main takeaways for anyone looking to grow as a leader:

  1. A good leader will always be ‘up to something’. There’s got to be a future you want to create or make happen and crucially, it’s connected to what you care about.
  2. Make sure there are at least five other people who want you to succeed – you will have setbacks and you’ll need these people for support when they happen.
  3. Be committed to other people’s success – understanding what matters to others and celebrating their success is a key part of engaging with them.
  4. We all have limiting beliefs or feelings of ‘I’m not good enough’ – that inner voice will never go away but you can learn to tame it by listening to the feedback of others.
  5. There are four main types of energy: intellectual, emotional, spirit and physical, and these can shift if you’re an operator, manager or leader. Understand the energy of your organisation and how it can affect your own energy.

Feedback from the event

After the event we spoke to some of the attendees to find out what they found most useful.

“I am going away buzzing with ideas and I’m keen to reflect on what I need to think about and action. It’s helped to advance my thoughts about leadership and enabled me to fine tune some of things I couldn’t verbalise before,” said Donna from SearchStar.

Alex Parsons from Ragdoll Research found it useful to have the concept of leadership condensed down into some manageable chunks to go away and think about. “For me, the main thing I will take away is the bit about my shadow and that everything I do has a bearing on those around me,” he said.

Bristol Media is running a different Vision event every month, inviting guest speakers on a range of topics.  Make sure you visit to find out more about our next event.