Tim Campbell MBE is a consultant for TeamSkills and believes that we need to try to redefine what leadership looks like for young people and what trust actually means. He believes it’s our job to empower young people to see what good leadership can be.
Tim came to the public’s attention following his much publicised success on the popular TV show, The Apprentice. Winning the first series of the programme led Tim to many other opportunities, including being appointed as the former Mayor of London’s first ever Ambassador for Training and Enterprise.
Tim was awarded an MBE for his Services to Enterprise Culture in 2012 and is passionate about training and enterprise. Tim is also the founder of the Bright Ideas Trust Enterprise charity and is also the co-author of one of the business book, 'What's Your Bright Idea?'
We asked Tim his views on leadership and how to create the perfect team.
I think people assume that great leaders have to have taken troops into battle or be running multi-million pound businesses… but great leadership can also be about running a family or being a great teacher in the classroom.
You can be a leader anywhere. The problem is that no one explains how you build up the skills… no one ever talked to me about being a leader; I just had to discover it for myself by watching how others.
I try not to talk about rigid leadership styles like authoritarian or collaborative. At its best, good leadership is all about adapting to the situation you’re in. When you are leading a team you are constantly faced with different and sometimes conflicting tasks.
You often need to work with people who have different abilities, personalities and expectations. That’s why you need to be able to adapt your leadership style, to work with the situation at hand. I think the greatest leaders are very flexible.
In my first business I found myself being very authoritative because I thought that's was the way you led people. I would delegate and tell people what to do. More recently, I’ve worked in government and with charities where the style has been much more democratic and collaborative.
It’s all about what works best in each environment – there are no rigid rules. I think especially with the gig-economy, where so many people tend to be on short term contracts or freelancing, businesses can’t lead by coercion.
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There are definitely some leadership qualities that are innate; for example some people have a natural ability to look at a problem and see several potential solutions that others can’t see. But that doesn’t mean that some people are born to be leaders and some aren’t. Leadership skills can be learnt.
Take communication for example. Good, clear communication is vital in a leader and that’s a skill that can be developed and nurtured. It’s one of the hardest skills to master but it’s critical to be able to articulate yourself.
I think a big part of effective leadership is a strong work ethic. Innate qualities can only take you so far. Ultimately you need to put your head down and put the time in. You can’t just quit when it starts to get difficult; you need to be a see things through.
It is important to understand the people you work with, to build meaningful relationships with them and to work out where people fit best. It is also essential to reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses. I know I’m good at engaging people and getting them motivated. What I’m not so great at is small details as I’m always onto the next thing! That's where having a great team comes in to support the leader with elements they aren't best at.
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We are living in an age where there is a lack of trust in leaders, especially in areas like banking and politics. Many young people look at the people in positions of power and they don’t see good role models. So it may be that the research is simply reflecting this model of leadership. We need to try to redefine what great leadership looks like for young people and get that trust back. It is our job to empower young people to see what good leadership can be.
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As the Chair of Governors of my local school, I am very lucky to have an insight into the education system. As leadership skills aren’t currently on the National Curriculum, I think it would be a great idea for business leaders to go into schools and share their experiences.
They can tell young people first-hand what you need to do. Leadership styles are so personal; it would be useful for business people to explain what leadership means to them and give young people living and local role models.
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Apart from my Mum and Lord Sugar? I think Warren Buffett is a very strong leader. He has attributes that I think are critical –good character, values and ethics. A good leader must be authentic too. Oprah Winfrey is an inspiration when you look at everything that she has achieved despite the challenges she’s faced.
For young people, there is a new generation of aspirational leaders like vloggers, people on Instagram and YouTube. They’re having a massive impact. Young people will be leading change in a very different world thanks to technology. Leadership is constantly evolving to meet new expectations and challenges. To truly develop leadership skills we must evolve. It is all about transformation and the empowered leaders of tomorrow and the changes they will bring about.
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