To know what makes a good team, first know your self.
Michael Nabarro is co-founder and CEO of Spektrix, a digital business aimed at helping arts organisations with their ticketing, marketing and fundraising. Its combination of arts knowledge (Michael began his career in theatre lighting) and ability to create intuitive and user-friendly software to serve the industry, has seen it grow rapidly in the last few years. But Michael’s link with the Leadership Trust is much, much older….
What brought the Leadership Trust to your attention?
“My dad! He did the course — by now about 30 years ago — and ever since I can remember, he’s been telling me I had to do it one day as it would change my life. So a couple of years ago I did, and he was right.”
It was that immediate?
“Well strangely no, I didn’t realise how important it was at the time. I came back and thought, yes that was interesting and I could probably apply some of these tools. It was only a year later when how significant it had been really started to sink in; how, actually, developing as a leader would be a hard, lifelong journey.”
What was important for you?
“For me, self awareness. I spend more time now looking at myself and how I’m behaving with people. I’ll examine interactions and say, yes I was pleased with this one, but that one I’m not so happy with, so what can I do to make it better next time. Even now I still go back to the course materials for help, spending more time prepping for meetings, thinking more about how to get the best from people.”
So what made you wait so long after those years of your Dad recommending it?
“It was about timing. When I took the course it was definitely the right time for me to do it. If I’d gone a year or two earlier, the business, and my job within it, would have been very different. We were just ten people, I was in my comfort zone, doing a bit of everything across the business. I wouldn’t have learned so much.
“When I did go we were 25 people and I was starting to feel out of my depth with how to grow the business further. We’re now almost 100 and I suspect we wouldn’t have grown our team as effectively as we have in the last few years without the learnings I and others have gained from the Leadership Trust.
Did it make things easier?
“Ha! Actually I came back from the course thinking ‘that was a really tough week. All those made up situations were so challenging’. It was only later I realised that real business is a lot harder!”
So it’s now a couple of years on, but you say the course is still helping the business. In what way?
“We have big plans to scale over the coming years and a major part of that is hiring at a senior level alongside what we’ve mostly done historically of bringing people up through the business. The learnings from the Leadership Trust have been really helpful in finding the right people and building a culture that can embrace them.
“The bit I’ve got better at is interviewing, not particularly the interview technique but knowing what you need to uncover to tell how new people will fit within a team. The course was a big help on that type of thing.
“We’ve probably now sent a dozen or so of our team on the course. For some it’s still early days, but everyone’s come back feeling like they’ve learned a lot — about leadership and themselves — as well as with a common language.
“It’s about saying be aware of yourself, be aware of what your limitations might be and when you need to take yourself outside of your comfort zone. At times that can feel as if you’re doubting yourself, but if you’ve realised what it is you need to do, that’s not doubt, that’s taking action.”
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