Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Carol Martin
Organisation: Cameron-Rees Ltd
I have worked to support leaders, potential leaders and everyone who has the ability to impact others for over 25 years. I aim to drive out the 'management speak' of industry and learning, to find the authentic reasons why people succeed or are facing challenge - and then replace with accountability, courage and curiosity. I am currently finalising a research study on The Corporate Emperor which will be published early 2024 and questions how we create a revolution in the way we run businesses, in recognition of the evolution of working life.
I work across the UK and globally and am always happy to have a chat about what is really going on - every day is a learning day!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
I* think it is the battle to remain authentically 'me'. There are additional pressures when you reach a senior leadership team in relation to the politics, the confidence of those around us etc that can lead to self-doubt, frustration or simply the feeling that you are fighting alone to protect the things that are important to you. Additionally, there is the fine balance between 'doing' and 'leading' - delegation across personal spheres of specialism is challenging for all I think.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was lucky enough to be in a company that measured energy and enthusiasm as much as experience and, perhaps, skill! I said yes to everything that was interesting to me and, as a result, became involved in multiple projects and was asked to lead on a key client strategy at a relatively young age. Since then, I have remained in a variety of leadership roles from start ups to Executive roles in large corporations. I now work with Leaders as an independent consultant to ExCos and leadership teams, across the world.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
No two days are alike; I am driven by client need, project milestones or personal research and design. Typically, I try to give myself half an hour first thing to prepare, do finance and admin and structure the day (doesn't always work!) and then work to the diarised plans for the day. I often work through till I feel I'm 'done' - I'm an owl so some of my best creative work may be in the evening!
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
That the very best leaders of 5 years ago are needing to reassess how they work with peers, managers and communication today. The world has changed irrevocably and the strategic, future focused leaders have to change too. Evolution of skills and approach was always needed but now more than ever with 4 generations at work, post pandemic economy and changing views of work/life blend.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The Culture Map by Erin Meyer - it enabled me to support observations and feelings about cultural norms with real data and an accessible route to understanding why, as we become increasingly diverse across all organisations, there are fundamental reasons why these differences can bring misunderstanding as well as innovation. It has supported my own research and facilitation of events with a wide range of organisations. Communication is at the heart of everything and this book showed me why some things that are so simple ... can also feel so difficult when working across difference.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Develop your values, standards and vision of the type of leader you want to be - and fight to retain them! I have seen so many good managers move into leadership roles and become shadows of who they were; feeling scared to speak up if different to the majority and becoming part of the 'always do what we've always done' leadership teams.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I recently worked with a young company - 5 years past creation - which had grown significantly both in terms of business success and staffing numbers. The CEO and Founder is a driving force and it was largely his expertise and passion initially that had created the basis for the company today. However, he did that rare thing of recognising that, whilst he was an amazing entrepreneur and driver, additional skills were needed to steer the company on a day-to-day, as it grew; people, structure, focus and operations. Therefore, he promoted one of his team to take over, allowing him to concentrate on what he did so well - excite, develop, sell and grow. It is rare to see this lack of ego and genuine leadership of a team of multiple skills and has stuck with me as I work across other teams.