Leadership is seen as the main criteria for business success. But what does good leadership mean? Julian Winser, CEO of Cazenove Capital, who has had years of experience of leadership in the financial sector, puts forward his perspective on being an inspiring leader.
Author, coach and speaker John C Maxwell said about leadership that: “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
Nothing is more important to an organisation than good leadership skills. But opinions vary about what leadership means. We spoke to Julian Winser, CEO of Cazenove Capital, a leading wealth management company based in London, UK, about what sets his business apart from the rest.
Welcome Julian. Can you tell me more about your business and experience, and importantly, what are the key lessons you have learned?
Our business is to provide clients with the full range of financial services related to wealth management. Because this is our primary purpose, we design our company and service around the client rather than around the manufacturing of product, which is what a number of our competitors do.
It therefore always clearly lies with the management and leadership elements of the business to set the bar for both the delivery of client services and the methodology for establishing high standards.
One key lesson we’ve learned – and there are many – includes the need for consistent communication with our employees to make sure we maintain those standards. This is because individuals inevitably fall back to their own view, approach and therefore ‘bar height’ if they aren’t reminded that they are part of a team.
A second key lesson is not just to be able to listen to all stakeholders, but to hear the message as well. All employees are encouraged to take a few moments at the end of the day to ask themselves: “What did I leave behind today?”
What are the core ingredients for good leadership, from your experience?
To me, a good leader will properly understand his or her business environment and effectively deliver to the wider range of stakeholders of the enterprise – be it a business, charity, trust, educational establishment or financial vehicle. Stakeholders are likely to include clients and their families, shareholders, employees and their families, suppliers, the community in which the enterprise operates and local government.
I also believe that an excellent leader will set a high bar for communicating at all levels. They should demonstrate integrity, deliver to or beyond expectations, and have the flexibility to provide the right style of leadership at the right time. They will be able to “adjust the sails”.
A further core skill is not just the ability to listen, but to hear the message. A great leader will understand the people affected by his or her leadership – and will always know what he or she has ‘left behind’. They will be honest when they’ve made a mistake.
A point always to remember as a leader is never to underestimate subliminal peer pressure. Teams subconsciously look to their leaders to set the standard. So, on those mornings when it all goes wrong – your partner is unwell, your children are challenging, the road works are still between your home and the train, the train is delayed, your heel falls off your shoe, your favourite coffee shop is shut for lack of staff, you are already five minutes late for your first meeting and you hate being late – stop at the door and leave it all behind. Smile and radiate a good morning to all.
Can you tell me more about what you mean when you say leadership is about including stakeholders, communication and listening?
It is the stakeholders who, together, will – whether they realise this or not – make up the ‘jury’ that ultimately decide the success of an enterprise. I believe that a great leader will intrinsically understand this.
However, to deliver, the leader will have to work out, through a process, exactly who his or her stakeholders are – and then ensure that the enterprise communicates with all in a way that the stakeholder can understand.
Obviously, the messages are likely to be hugely different, and in today’s international world will have to reflect not only the distinct needs of the various stakeholders but also their diverse cultures and politics. For example, at the end of a financial year for a bank, the regulator will want to know that the organisation was compliant, the shareholders will be interested in financial performance and their dividend, the staff will be concerned with good working conditions, and the community will look at whether the bank had good policies on the environment, transparency and behaviour.
You’ve said in the past that leadership is also about luck. What have been some examples of luck in your working life?
I think that most good leaders, and I would argue all great leaders, recognise that luck will inevitable play some part in success. Being in the right place at the right time is a fabulous ingredient for successful leadership, and I would argue is inevitably down to an element of prior planning and preparation combined with a little luck.
A great example in my working life was being asked to come to Guernsey to review the business overall. The timing was perfect as far as I was concerned, and fourteen years later I am still enjoying a great and growing business where every day is both productive and fun and we are surrounded by a great team.
An article in the Harvard Business Review in 2015 concluded that what successful CEOs had in common was luck – luck being about ‘looking the part’. But to me, luck also means having the inspiration to make the right decisions at the right time.
How do you see the next ten years of your working life evolving?
I have enjoyed every bit of my working life and have no reason to believe that the future holds anything other than a continuation of this.
The pace of change is fast and ongoing. I expect to see a rapid change in the type of sought-after jobs that are currently in our business landscape. I will certainly keep close eye on these changes and pivot the business, and my own career, accordingly.