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/ News - Leadership Spotlight

Leaders: Creating Better Business

In this feature, we ask respected business leaders, and client partners of Think, to share their perspective on what creating better business means to them and their commercial ambitions. And, how they see these being impacted by the seismic changes that businesses are facing.

Dr Julia Jones, PhD, MSc, MBA

I first entered the wellness sector in the early 1990s as a fresh, enthusiastic Sport & Exercise Science graduate. I spent two decades lecturing on local further and higher education courses, and building a health club chain that was later sold as part of a hotel group for £180M. The health, spa, fitness and leisure sector boomed. We were convinced that this surge in health and fitness clubs would transform public health. Yet decades later, despite the billions of dollars spent on promoting diet and exercise based activities, this sector has failed to produce healthy nations. This has fascinated me for several years, even before the pandemic, and has influenced my work and business greatly.

For me, “creating a better business” means extinguishing the “business as usual approach”, and making whatever changes are necessary to really create a product or service that not only matches what the target customers want or need, but also uses the latest proven science and insights to ensure that what you’re giving them is the best possible version, and likely to deliver the best possible results.

In 2019/20 as part of the research for my new book and smart wellness coaching programme, I made several “mystery shopper” visits to well-known gyms. The advice I was given during all those visits has hardly changed since I first graduated in the 1990s, despite the fact that the science has moved on significantly since then. I encourage all business owners in any sector to question whether their business model is truly the best it can be. Maintain a hunger for new research findings and ideas. Operating a “business as usual” mindset based on outdated knowledge or practices is unlikely to create a better business. Be brave enough to forensically examine your business model. Wipe the slate clean and rebuild if necessary. That’s what we’ve done over the past 12-months and it’s proven to be transformative, both personally and professionally.

Brigid Watson

Brigid is the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, which exists to maintain and promote the rule of law throughout the Commonwealth by ensuring that an independent and efficient legal profession serves the people of the Commonwealth.

“The world for us, like most membership organisations, has changed and maybe forever. Pondering that term, creating better business, evokes just what a considerable challenge we have faced but also the great opportunities now created. For instance, CLA’s mission is to uphold the rule of law across the Commonwealth, and this is increasingly beingly enhanced by the leaps in digital connectivity.

One thing that is apparent to me personally is how as we start to emerge from lockdown, developing strategies for creating better business will demand we listen more closely to what our members and partners tell us about what they want, where they want it and how they want to access it. Creating better business for NGO organisations like CLA requires us to embrace virtual platforms and partnerships created out of common interest. The last year has been a fast track of learning to engage fully with digital opportunities for connectivity. Upgrading our digital platforms, facilitating networking, and promoting access to diverse learning opportunities ensure that we provide benefit to our members and deliver on the core CLA mission. The message of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demands that we ‘leave no one behind’. Inclusivity, the balance between in person meetings and virtual connectivity must be the hallmark of CLA’s growth. Our members concern about sustainability, the advance of technology and regional inequalities have resonance for us all and it is our collective relationship to each other and to our world that will shape the new landscape.”

Darren Hill

Darren is CEO of Thompsons, a specialist contractor providing fit-out and refurbishment services to established brands and clients in the food & beverage and retail & leisure sectors, including Starbucks, Marks & Spencer, Dyson and Peloton.

“Better is always the goal! But how do you measure better?

To become a better business you need to identify which lens you are viewing improvement through - client, supply chain, employees, investors and /or shareholders.

When you analyse each lens and perspective, for me, it does come back to wellbeing each time.

In the current climate, health risks both mentally and physically are an obvious link to wellbeing. Therefore, from the outset, clarity of communication, diligence in adherence to government guidelines and adapting working patterns to suit every individual in the business and their personal circumstances, gave the business the opportunity to focus on wellbeing and create better communication with the teams.

The business ensured they had sufficient mental health first aiders to support remote working and the ultimate return to regular work patterns. This specific element of wellbeing was not given enough focus pre-pandemic, so the business is now better equipped to recognise and support our people.

Financial wellbeing is an important part of the answer of creating a better business; if our people provide exceptional customer service this will lead to increased sales, more sustainable jobs and financial rewards for all involved. To create exceptional customer service levels our people need clarity in their roles, a dependable business infrastructure and the passion to drive success. Passion and determination isn’t always linked to financial wellbeing, but belief that the business is doing the right things, understanding their personal circumstances and giving clarity are ingredients which will stimulate fantastic behaviours.

In conclusion and in my opinion; to create a better business, the wellbeing of everyone that touches or interacts with a corporate entity is the key to unlocking growth and sustained success."

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