Leadership Spotlight: Ian Baker

Tell us about your background and your journey to founding The Ian Baker Consultancy.

I began my coaching and consultancy journey 6 years ago, after 20 years of corporate life and 5 years of leading a global Medical Devices business. I was fortunate to have learned from my experiences in some of the world’s largest FMCG and Healthcare businesses, specifically in sales, marketing, and product development. I am now using those experiences and my continuous personal development to help business owners and leaders create lasting legacies.

What is your leadership philosophy?

I have led teams for many years, be that within a matrix or with direct reports and I haven’t always got things right over the years. However, from those mistakes I understood that to be a leader you need those around you to trust you. Without trust, your team, your fellow leaders, your customers, and your suppliers will not go the extra mile.

Trust is made up of:

– delivering a clear purpose and plan;

– being authentic by acting with integrity;

– and being empathetic – which is being present for people when they need you.

What makes a great leader?

My view on this is that a great leader provides the tools and fuel to their followers to enable them to build great organisations. Great Leaders are capable of expressing the vision and what is required to deliver that vision. Great leaders are able to build upon their own strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.

Great leaders understand that leadership is about EQ and not IQ.

Tell us more about fast feedback training and why it is no longer effective.

My definition of fast feedback training is that currently we apply the process of teaching leadership skills in the same way we might teach someone to use Microsoft Office. You are taught the basics, maybe even run a few examples and then pass a “test” at the end of the classroom session, followed by a certificate. To be a great leader requires EQ as coined by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in the late 80s. Developing Emotional Intelligence (EQ) requires time, you might be able to take away the basics from a day’s training, but to implement the skills and behaviours of a great leader takes time. When I speak to business owners who have put their leaders through the current methodology for leadership or team working, the feedback is consistently the same. The owners talk about a “lack of context”, no “tools or follow up coaching to support the learning”, “how do we measure if its working?” Fast feedback training, does not address these issues, it is simply a “massification” of what is a complex subject.

What are your views on the development of leadership at an organisational level (rather than at a managerial level)?

I believe that leadership is fluid within high performing organisations. As a manager, a business owner or a corporate CEO, you will not always have all the right answers. A skill of high performing organisations is to allow anybody at any level to be confident to “take the lead” on a task. That empowerment to step forward and demonstrate leadership is vital to success, both in the progress of that organisations towards its goals, but also in the development of future leaders. Great leaders will build powerful legacies through this strategy.

One of the successful tools you mention is performance profiling, how does this work?

To ensure that my work with teams and leaders is measurable, we implement a performance profiling technique for teams. Be that a board, or those who work on the factory floor.

The key purpose of the process is to build a view of what the key attributes of that team needs to be to deliver the organisations goals. We create a list of all those attributes with the team and then try and score each attribute based on the team’s performance right now.

The team then ranks the most important ones that require work and agree together on what should be done to improve the performance. After a defined period of time, we can revisit the progress and re-score the attributes.

What are your top strategies for building a successful team?

I have mentioned this earlier, but I believe it centres around the following:

1. A clear purpose and plan – why are the actions important? Without the team understanding where they are going, how can they all pull together in the same direction?

2. Mutual respect and trust across the whole team for each other’s strengths.

3. The ability for each team member to have a voice and be able to debate without fear of reprisal.

4. A strong leader who can provide the energy and motivation but is also capable of having difficult conversations.

Can you share a case study?

I am currently coaching a specific team within a UK corporation. This team is relatively new in formation but had a number of legacy components around process and attitude. I started the process through observation, how does the team work together and interact with each other? What was clear from the beginning was the teams understanding of how they were meant to deliver the new vision for the team and what that meant to them personally – as it often involved them stepping outside of their comfort zones.

I began simply by coaching the team leaders – I helped them to become coaches themselves and to ask questions of themselves and their team to create a greater understanding and build trust.

As they learned to ask more coaching led questions, the understanding of the team’s issues were being properly debated and clear actions to address concerns were created. This started to build trust, as the trust was being built, the team became more confident outside the comfort zones, knowing that their decisions were being supported (whatever the outcome). Innovation improved, independence and empowerment grew and projects were being delivered more successfully to the client’s delight.

What is your favourite leadership quote?

It isn’t a quote as such, but psychologist Karl Wieck once wrote, “Maps, by definition, can only help in the known world, worlds that have been charted before. Compasses are helpful when you aren’t sure where you are and you need a sense of direction”.

Fast feedback training is just giving people the tools to draw another map, we need to develop training that helps leaders to build and use a compass effectively.

How can our readers learn more about yourself and the Ian Baker Consultancy?

You can visit my website to book a FREE 30 minute consultation where we can discuss the specifics of coaching and training: www.ianbakerconsultancy.co.uk

You can also follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ianbakerexecutivecoachandmentor

Or connect via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ian-baker-consultancy/

How can our readers learn more about performance profiling?

You can download the performance profiling template for FREE HERE: https://trainingmagazineme.com/ppt-template

Editor-In-Chief of Bizpreneur Middle East