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FWB Park Brown Leadership Event 2020

By November 12, 2020News & updates

Last Tuesday evening, FWB Park Brown hosted its annual Leadership event, this year ‘online’ for 90 of Scotland’s most influential business leaders.

We had keynote contributions from Iain Mackay (Group CFO of GSK plc) and Doug Gurr (Head of Amazon UK, former President of Amazon China and newly appointed Director of the Natural History Museum) followed by group discussions, an open plenary and an engaging Q & A session.

The evening was held in aid of the fantastic British Heart Foundation and thanks to the generosity of our guests we raised over £10,000 which will go to crucial research and treatment.

Discussion questions posed by Iain and Doug during digital break out rooms:

  • As leaders what do you know now about leading teams and crisis management that you wish you had known months ago?
  • With the knowledge gained over the last nine months what might you have done differently in leading your teams at the outset of the pandemic?
  • How might you lead your teams or collaborate with others differently in the months and years ahead?
  • Projecting forward, perhaps 12-18 months to a time when this is all over, what one thing would you want people to remember about you as a leader during this time?

Some takeaway quotes from our speakers and guests

Reflections and Learnings:

Stress test your business and scenario plan for a wide range of potentially fatal circumstances.
Ask yourself: do we have the resources to weather a crisis; have we got the risk management and controls in place; do we have enough cash and sources of cash; do we have the right information to inform decisions?
If something wasn’t worth doing during the crisis then it may not be worth doing during normal times.
Do we have the right people in place? This crisis has shown us that people who get calmer as the situation gets crazier are both crucial and rare. Experience of change management is essential and those who can apply lessons from the past to be put to work in the present will perform best.
Survive then thrive, learn and innovate based on the crisis. What are the good behaviours, efficiencies and processes that we could and should apply most days or even every day in normal circumstances to perform better?
We have learnt a lot about what to do in a crisis that has improved our business. Ask yourself, what would you bottle up from the crisis to use in the future?
We can learn that, a lot of the time, 80% is good enough and there is little value in spending 90% more time to achieve 20% more result. By accepting this we can innovate and progress far more quickly.
Working from home can lead to working more and more hours, however productivity improvements aren’t going to be delivered by working more hours. There is a cap and we need to look after our teams and our own mental health to ensure sustainability of performance and culture.
It’s the Scout Moto but it applies. Always Be Prepared.

On Leadership:

Consistent, clear, calm and decisive communication is essential.
We need to maintain consistency of behaviours in fair weather and foul.
Good leaders earn ‘followership’.
We are not just aiming to build confidence and trust in our shareholders or the market, we are aiming to build confidence and trust in our people.
People respect authenticity, even showing your vulnerabilities.
Trust your people and draw them into the decision-making process. Look to delegate and even push down the powers of decision making to both empower, create pace, and also alleviate the board in non-essential deliberations.
Switch your voice off and your ears on, listening is important as is for your communication to be concise and clear.
Looking back, people remember behaviours more than actual decisions and actions. Leaders, people, cultures and even organisations will be judged for years to come on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’.
Treat people as you want, or would have wanted, to be treated.
Take care of yourself and your team. There are 168 hours in a week: roughly 56 for work, 56 for sleep and 56 for everything else. If we are to become hundreds of times more productive/valuable during our careers from graduate to CEO, we can’t achieve this through working more hours, the numbers don’t stack up. Instead it comes down to working more efficiently and prioritising.
We have seen the end of the superman leader and the rise of the empathetic and collaborative leader.
Last week the CEO of United Airlines quoted Churchill by saying “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning”. If this is the case, which it may well be, to be able to sustain this pace, or even these conditions, we need to be able to rest and re-energise at the right times. Take breaks, recognise people’s efforts and commitments, praise, motivate, look after yourself and your teams and lead by example.

Since the 17th March 2020, FWB Park Brown are delighted to have held over 200 varied leadership events, crisis committees and networking groups. We are extremely grateful for everyone’s support and commitment to these and feel privileged to have been part of such insightful and important conversations.

Over £10,000 raised for

With this event, we are also delighted to have raised over £10,000 for The British Heart Foundation, and are grateful to all of our guests for their contributions to make this target. The British Heart Foundation was set up by doctors and philanthropists in 1961 when more than half of all deaths in the UK were caused by cardiovascular disease. Their aim, as now, was to reduce this through research and innovation. In the 60 years since, this number has halved, though cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide so this money raised is going to help this crucial research and on-going treatment to save lives.

Whilst we look forward to planning next years event, hopefully virus free and back in person, we will continue our smaller leadership events weekly. If you would be interested in attending or have a topic you would like us to consider for one of these please get in touch with any of our team at or on 0131 539 7087.