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Inspiration with a purpose - Nick Stace, CEO, RCVS

What do 100 leaders from financial services, retail, social businesses and the media find to talk about on a sheep farm near Lambourn? Quite a lot as it happens!

This unlikely venue is fast becoming the spiritual home of leadership company Wavelength, and it’s a venue that lends itself to disruptive and challenging conversations with some of the world’s most extraordinary leaders. The purpose of these two days is to educate, connect and inspire leaders so that they also become truly world class.

So, this first day has focused on how leaders can fail more but do so without breaking the bank, through Google inspired pretotyping*; how the world’s largest pump manufacturer Grundfos is developing technologies to bring fresh water to a billion people in developing countries and doing so ethically but profitably too; and how one man has created emergency services in India – Ziqitza – that have benefited 3 million people and has plans to reach out to 5 billion people with a global emergency response service.

At face value one might question the relevance of a pump manufacturer or a global ambulance service to a bank or high street retailer, but underpinning their success are leadership lessons and business principles that apply to all of us. In the course of the discussions I counted at least ten success factors that can be applied across all businesses, and here they are:

  1. Entrepreneurial drive

  2. Audacious and ambitions goals

  3. Engaged working cultures

  4. Persistence in the face of resistance

  5. Unshakeable belief

  6. The courage to make a difference

  7. Limited resources

  8. Data driven decision making

  9. Great networks

  10. Luck

With such noble causes alleviating suffering in the developing world, one could conclude that decisions are no doubt based on sentiment, however in reality they survive on tough leadership and focused decision-making. Data driven decision-making is the most tangible example of this. Successful organisations seem to measure everything. Did you know for example that Google even test the optimum length of queues at their workplace restaurants to ensure the right amount of conversation is had by their staff?!

We finished the day with a master class on how to network and its importance in leadership; a ‘board that you can’t afford’ as uber networked Zella King of The Personal Boardroom observed. The art and science of networks, strategy versus serendipity, a purposeful endeavour to support leaders in good times and bad.

It’s inspiring stuff but not inspiration for its own sake. Practical advice and actionable interventions alongside the sobering knowledge that if we fail to embrace change, then the will of those who embrace the ten success factors may well challenge us all out of existence.


* pretotyping = in dictionary terms, validating market appeal and actual usage with the smallest possible investment. Find out more about how pretotyping works here

Watch a further video on Grundfos Lifelink here Find out more about The Personal Boardroom here

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