How to achieve and sustain outstanding levels of performance: Leading with vision, inspiration and integrity


On behalf of the British Quality Foundation (BQF), Jamie Burton, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Manchester Business School, has conducted an extensive research project into contemporary business practices to explore what excellence looks and feels like, and how it benefits business.

In the second volume of the series Dr Burton examines the leaders of four mid-sized organisations and explores how their complex leadership styles impact on the companies they lead.

The volume highlights the complexity of the task that leaders face, not only in successfully managing diverse businesses, but in handling a multitude of leadership styles in order to be effective.

The four organisations and their leadership styles:

  1. Interserve Construction is the UK construction arm of Interserve Plc, a global provider of buildings and building services. Here there is an emphasis on communication and on supporting people with the right skills and frameworks, and ensuring that they feel included no matter how geographically remote they are. Long-term training programmes instil corporate values and develop a framework of trust, which allow the company to operate effectively at over 300 UK sites. According to Managing Director, Ian Renhard, “it’s about supporting the people and making sure that we’re not sending them out on a limb”.
  2.  At JPCS, a specialist in waterproofing tarmac, there is an entrepreneurial approach to business with an emphasis on innovation and continual improvement, and a strong family business ethos. Managing Director, Peter Shone says he is increasingly convinced that humility leadership gets the best results and creates the most sustainable business. In the term “humility”, he includes the attributes of being calm, being in authority and not being easily flustered. “This kind of leader always gives their best to the company and its people; in a sector which often faces challenging situations, having someone who is calm rather than volatile is an asset. Staff are more settled and less likely to be reactive and “overheat” in a situation under this type of leader” he says.
  3. There is a strong element of communication at water utility provider Northumbrian Water Limited. The company holds an annual series of roadshows, allowing Chief Executive, Heidi Mottram, to speak with employees in small groups. Heidi says: “I think the most important thing is to have a very clear idea about what you’re trying to do and why you’re trying to do it, coupled with a set of values or behaviours that are associated with that. And being able to articulate that in a motivating way to the workforce”. She focuses on what the company is doing, what is important and why it is important.
  4. Circle Housing Wherry is a registered provider of social housing, and the only not-for-profit organisation in the study. As a social landlord, Wherry frequently extends its own remit to encompass its tenants and local communities. By increasing the skills and improving the attitudes of residents, Wherry seek to increase the employability of its tenants which has a long term financial impact on the organisation. Happier and engaged communities are also easier to manage, having fewer issues around anti-social behaviour and non-payment of rents. To deliver this, the leadership style throughout the organisation is relaxed and flexible, very much about entrusting staff and empowering them to deliver the outcomes within set parameters. Sue Stavers, Managing Director, says: “This culture can be attributed to the careful recruitment and promotion of staff, looking at aptitude and attitude above technical skills”.

A Northern launch event will take place on 13 October 2015 at Manchester Business School. Look out for more details coming soon or to reserve a place contact




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Manchester Business School has a global reputation for innovative and influential teaching and research, which impacts business on a local, national and international level. We call this Original Thinking Applied.

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