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Three Top Tips on Leadership

Sir Martin Narey, former CEO of Barnardos and Former Director General of the Prison Service shares his leadership tips – how to say thank you, love loneliness and being OK with self-doubt.

At Wavelength events Martin is well received for his humility, honesty and wise words. In this short video Martin shares his top 3 leadership tips which are:

  1. To say thank you and do it well. Every Friday Martin would write and send a handwritten note to three or four employees to say thank you for something that they had done well that week. Martin admits that he didn’t always know these people (the prison service had over 70,000 employees) but his colleagues did and they would tell him who had done well.

  2. Acknowledge the loneliness of leadership. When Martin took the job at the Prison Service he was well aware that not many people wanted to do it. He spent the first three months getting to understand the organisation and being trained to do the role. The one thing he says no one mentioned was how lonely it was going to be, Martin says it took him a good year and half to get on top of the loneliness he experienced as a Director General of the Prison Service.

  3. Self-Doubt as a Leader is OK. After only 18months in the prison service and acting as “governor in charge” of a prison, Martin had to take control of a riot that had broken out. Martin realised that he had to manage the situation but didn’t know what to do. Senior staff around Martin gave their suggestions on how to handle the crisis and Martin listened eventually weighing up the options and making a decision about the action he was going to take. Martin learnt that Self Doubt is OK and “when you don’t know what to do you ask people, you talk about the issue and you find a solution”. Leaders don’t always have all of the solutions for every crisis.

Sir Martin Narey is part of Wavelength’s speakers bureau. To view his full biography, find links to other video’s and to book Martin for a speaking engagement go to:

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