Name: David Barratt
Title: Operations Director and Founder
Organisation: Austin Lee Resourcing Ltd
Started out as a raw medical representative and after four years, I was almost medium rare. My marketing claim to fame is that I was the Durex King at London Rubber (oh, the stories I could tell). Whilst there I also launched the World's first starch-free surgeons glove which was said to revolutionise surgery and patient care. My advertising career encompassed MD and CEO roles with large European-focused healthcare agencies before setting up a headhunting agency specialising in ERP assignments in Europe.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope David's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Perhaps the most challenging aspect in my career has always been to identify the competent team members from those that weren't. It should be so simple, but with a select few who are bright, they use that intelligence to cover up their incompetence. It can take a while to suss them out and sometimes difficult to remove them.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I guess leadership for me, came from the football field and basketball court when I was in my teens. Not that I was that outstanding at either sport but I must have been good at organising back then and I was encouraged to take that mantle. Leadership followed naturally in my career. Can leadership be taught? In my opinion, no. You can learn a lot from others of how not to lead (bullying. poor communication etc.), but leadership to me is an innate skill.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I always attack the most difficult task to hand early in my day. If I snap into the daily emails first, it is easy to get distracted. Procrastination can also be an issue for many and if it persists for me, I change office or room. This really helps. Nowadays I will not look at emails or talk business after 6 pm unless there is a mega urgent issue to deal with. This was not the case when I was younger and my relationships did suffer as a result.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Bullying can take many forms. From big companies slowing down payment to smaller companies to procurement people being overly demanding.
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?
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Jobs was a horrible person to those around him but was perhaps the most creative person of his generation. He seemed to drive those around him to be exceptionally creative as well. His impact in so many areas of our lives, should never be forgotten.
However what he really brought home to me is that creativity is not the preserve of a few, but in the right circumstances, creativity can be stimulated in many of us.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Treat people as you would like to be treated yourself.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I once worked in a large multinational company where the UK Sales Director spent large amounts of time cozying up to members of the Board. I left the company as I believed him to be incompetent. His connections allowed him to become the Global CEO. I was astounded. Eventually, his incompetence was proven when this huge plc has to be bought out in a fire sale for a fraction of its value.