Deltra has become known for its networking events geared towards helping leaders become the best they can be. With the roaring success of our leadership webinar series, designed to advise directors, heads of and C-suite during what was probably the most challenging period in business to date, we decided to immortalise some of those conversations in a podcast.
Thus, the Deltra Leadership Series was born. Hosted by our Managing Director, Minesh Jobanputra, this new series seeks to inspire, support and challenge those in leadership positions in the transformation and change space. 2020 was a difficult year in so many ways: through the adversity of the global pandemic, crucial social justice movements and acknowledging the role the business world has to play in all of it – there was never a better opportunity to share knowledge and experiences.
Kicking off our first ever episode is none other than Business Manager for Arriva Bus and transformation leader, Roxanne Glaud. Having made her mark on the transport sector in both the public and private sector, delivering transformative programmes in people change and business operations, Roxanne is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to getting the best out of people. We’ve had the pleasure of working with Roxanne for a number of years. She’s a valuable member of our mentoring scheme and having heard her input during our Women In Transformation event series, we knew we had to get her on the podcast.
We discuss important topics like the BLM movement and how businesses can and should respond from the perspective of a leader of colour, understanding that your workforce doesn’t exist in a vacuum and the power of discretionary effort. Additionally, we dive into some of Roxanne’s tried and tested leadership techniques and explore how one can get the most out of their people through being a truly authentic leader.
Click the link below to listen to the full episode, or keep reading for a synopsis of the key points discussed.
Roxanne explained how having authenticity to your leadership style is a must for embedding change, and bringing people with you on your journey as opposed to taking an authoritative stance.
She referenced how in her early career there was more of a belief that the leader knows best in all situations – now that’s not strictly true and a lot of people know it. Instead, she’s a firm believer in making your intentions known. In making people aware of who you are and what you’re trying to deliver, you’re much more likely to get the results you want from your workforce than by opting for the stick instead of the carrot every time.
Ultimately, people have got to believe in you or positive change will never come organically. Change can be unsettling, particularly for those who’ve been with the business 10, 20 or 30 years who’ve gotten accustomed to doing things their way. For someone to come in and shake things up organisationally, they’ve got to master that balancing act of driving change forward but also taking the sensitivities of the wider business on board while guiding them along the change curve. Roxanne talks about how change is always scary at first and often is met with denial or resistance. A good leader will listen to their team’s concerns and transition through the natural progression of accepting change with them as opposed to telling them they have no choice in the matter.
Bring your whole self to work is another way to foster authenticity in your leadership style and wider organisation, something which has been talked about at length in recent conversations about promoting a mentally healthy workforce. Many people have an office persona to seem more professional. As a result, they end up putting on a bit of a front which can come across as insincere and stand in the way of developing proper rapport.
The more authenticity your workforce feel from the top down, the less likely they are to hold back when it comes to communicating when things aren’t going so well, which makes your job as a leader much easier in the long run.
“At the end of the day, to make any sort of change stick, you've got to get to the heart of people.”
Another thing that came up a few times over the course of our discussion surrounded morals and their importance in leadership. With the emergence of the ‘corporate conscience’ driving the expectation for businesses to use their position for good, now more than ever leaders need to have strong morals to get their team on side.
If you don’t believe in your business from a moral standpoint, that will filter down through your leadership style and come across as inauthentic, which ties into her earlier point on authenticity. If your workforce feel they are part of something greater, your bottom line will naturally feel more committed to your company and be substantially in tune with its objectives, having a positive impact on our society in general.
Roxanne says that treating your employees well has a ricochet effect. After all, every one of them has a role to play in our society. If they’re experiencing constructive, empathetic and morally sound leadership at work, they’re more likely to play a positive role in our society, and that’s where businesses can make a huge difference.
A perfect example of this is when Roxanne’s organisation, Arriva, responded to the coronavirus outbreak by getting involved with local charities and highlighting local heroes in the community for their hard work during such a difficult time – both in and outside of the business. When people feel safe and secure in their jobs, they’re more inclined to want to help others.
From a workforce and operational perspective, they formed a Covid-19 steering group that met twice a week to discuss the best ways to cope with the newfound challenges that the pandemic brought with it. From making sure the work environment was Covid-safe to reminding their team about their Employee Assistance Programmes – communication was always top of the agenda for them. They also made an effort not to be too prescriptive with what teams should be doing, each team was able to form their own way of building each other up and staying positive when things were anything but on the outside.
Context and discretionary effort
The past year has taught us that, as a leader, you can’t treat your employees and their performance as though they’re in a vacuum. Their work takes place against the backdrop of whatever else is happening in the world right now and we can’t ignore that fact any longer. In the case of the global pandemic we’re still battling, employers have had to learn to be truly flexible to get the most out of their workforce.
Discretionary effort is a term that often gets bandied around, but it truly is what any leader should strive to get some their team. It’s going the extra mile because you genuinely like your job and want the company to do well. Nobody is asking for it but you know how much it will be appreciated.
In recent times, discretionary effort has been harder to come by with many people feeling the stress of the pandemic. Those leaders that have opted for a more empathetic and flexible approach are now reaping the rewards of a more engaged workforce. Take Arriva for example, that camaraderie that was built up through the efforts of their Covid-19 steering group has had a lasting effect on morale.
Diversity & inclusion
Aside from the pandemic, 2020 brought with it a major awakening in the form of the tragic death of George Floyd, the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests and the acknowledgement of systemic racial inequality in the West. Arriva’s global equality and inclusion policy which had launched earlier in the year meant that the business wasn’t taking an entirely reactive stance as these issues were already on its radar.
With plenty of diversity and inclusion initiatives in place to ensure a baseline of ethics, Arriva was in a better starting position than a lot of organisations that were only just starting to think about race.
While they were already D & I savvy, March 2020 really highlighted the need to do more, so Arriva opted to focus internally when the George Floyd news broke. Instead of making lots of external statements, they chose to work from the inside out, making sure employees felt supported and could clearly see the company’s moral standpoint.
As a leader of colour, Roxanne was able to approach these issues from a different vantage point. Having been understandably affected by the shocking events that led up to the protests, she was able to channel her perspective into helping to shape a more equal and fair future. She formed part of Arriva’s panel and alongside many others in the business was able to openly share her experience – this conversation was shared company wide and even followed up with a few months later to keep the momentum going.
With her input, Arriva went above and beyond to make their intentions clear: intolerance will not be tolerated. The D & I consult that was formed earlier in the year became the perfect place to ensure this message wasn’t forgotten. Roxanne believes that as a leader, you can’t just talk about things, you have to be present and take action.
This type of energy can be felt throughout Arriva. The Managing Director of their bus division offered to sponsor the D & I consult and hasn’t missed a single session, he’s actively engaged in making this positive change happen. Seeing how those beliefs weave into Arriva’s DNA really ties back to Roxanne’s original points about authenticity and leading with conviction.
We really couldn’t have asked for a better guest for our first podcast episode. Roxanne is an open book when it comes to sharing her knowledge on leading with empathy and it was fantastic to get her take on using a leadership position for societal good.
We’ve got some more amazing leaders lined up to give us their insight on how they do things. To be the first to listen to our upcoming episodes, please subscribe. You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor and Google.