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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
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Jonno White

7 Questions with Leslie Robinson
7 Questions with Leslie Robinson

Name: Leslie Robinson

Current title: CEO

Current organisation: LRSG Ltd , i-Giver Ltd (and others)

I started my first business at the age of 18 (after the death of my father) to pay for university and I have been building and running businesses most of the following 40 years, including £million and £multi-million ones

7 Questions with Leslie Robinson

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?

Getting a vision across to customers - you can have the most fantastic idea/service/proposal in the world but in most cases peoples natural suspicions will keep them from looking at something new - you can be more successful by doing something slightly different or improved than by going in with something unique

2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?

This comes from my father to some extent. He had his own business so when he died from cancer when I was 18, the only way I could see to follow the path I wanted was for me to run my own business. Although that first one was photography my profession is accountancy and, since then I have built 2 x £1m+ accountancy firms, and tax practice. More recently More recently I have been involved in marketing (Proventus Group) and strategic consulting for others, helping to create a number of millionaires (clients)

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

As I have got older I have found that quality works better than quantity, so whereas I used to be starting my day at 6.30 and often go on to 8pm, now my routine is (roughly) get up around 7.30 and feed the dogs let my mind wander whilst I sort the dishwasher etc - often I find ideas (or possible problems) come to me during this time
around 8am I have breakfast and read the news (via an online app)
Around 8.30-8.40 I'll be at my desk (I have a home office which I prefer to travelling to the main one) and will start on emails, going through to simple to answer/sort ones first)
By 9.30-9.45 I'm fully "in the swing" and will have a coffee (latte usually) before getting on to serious matters. From 10-1 (ish) I'll deal with various matters from the companies that I'm CEO or director of (10 at present) which could be business plans, strategic planning, project analysis etc
Over lunch (30-40 mins) I will usually take a look at LinkedIn to see if there is anything of interest and maybe check out emails again
around 4pm I will usually make another coffee and have a short break, heading back to the desk until around 6.30
Evening is relaxation time if possible, that is when my idea of relaxation does not collide with my wife's idea of tasks to be carried out!.
Around 9.30pm-10pm I'll check up on emails again and put in mind any problems or plans
10.00pm-10.30pm I'll head up to bed and think on ideas/solutions as I drift off to sleep (I find this time is my most creative and ideas that came from this has led to several successful businesses)

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Everyone is different, everyone works best in different situations. To get the best from people you need to be flexible and you need to take the time to find out what parts of their job they love/hate and adapt the position to suit (a person who loves doing a task is usually going to be far more motivated for the job than someone who feels it's just something they have to do)

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?

I've read a lot of books and taken something (big or small) from most, but the first one was "How to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie

6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?

Trust and delegation - for the majority of people if they know they are being trusted to get something done (within their skill set obviously) then there is an element of pride and effort to do it well. Mistakes can and will happen but the most important part is not "not making the mistake" but learning from any mistake

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?

A sad one - the first time I had to dismiss someone. This was with my first accountancy practice… a person who had ability but just kept on making mistakes (including basic ones on his exams). By sacking him I knew he was unlikely to be able to carry on in his chosen career, but being tough was really a kindness. I came across him 4 years later, working as a cashier in a petrol station and he told me he was much happier

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