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Unprecedented with Richard Grazier

Published 18th April 2023

At Unprecedented, we had the opportunity to speak to Richard Grazier, an outstanding Managing Director, who spoke to us about his views on leadership and the changes and challenges he’s faced in recent years.

Define leadership and what being a leader means to you.

I believe that leaders make leaders! Leadership is not a job title or a position on an organisation chart, leadership is a privilege! As leaders, we have a unique opportunity to facilitate a shared purpose, much better than just a purpose as it really means nothing without being shared, and with this comes drive, alignment and a collective sense of teamwork! There are two key characteristics of a great leader: they are great listeners, and the second is that they understand that the little details are the difference. 

What would you like your Leadership Legacy to be? 

Not the roles, or titles I have held, but I simply want to look at the leaders I have identified, developed and mentored and the impact they are all making! Also every aspect of the organisations I’ve worked in, every single employee understands that it is important to be human, with each other, our customers and our partners.

What are the “non-negotiable” behaviours that you expect you and those around you to live by?

My top ten non-negotiables are:

  1. Know the details
  2. Don’t measure people on tasks
  3. Have integrity and humility
  4. Encourage others to ask why
  5. Be a great listener
  6. Be consistent and transparent
  7. Put community and the team over ego and control
  8. Over-communicate the plan
  9. Lead by example
  10. Create a culture that drives the potential of everybody

What are the Unprecedented opportunities or challenges that you/your business are now facing?  

The main challenges I’m facing are around these areas:

  • Talent attraction
  • Talent retention
  • Succession planning
  • Digital strategy
  • New exec-level recruitment needs
  • Team culture and  hybrid working strategy (again)
  • Supply chain costs and efficiencies
  • Cyber security
  • Big data
  • Market share growth
  • Sustainability and CSR
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Automation
  • User and customer experience
  • Business transformation and projects
  • Mental health and wellbeing

Change by its nature leaves human beings and organisations feeling confused, vulnerable and fractured, at the very time when resilience, cohesion and collaboration are necessary! We face change today like never before, here are some points I’ve noticed.

  • Organisational change that lacks sequence and is discontinuous is now an important determinant of our ability as an organisation to adapt.
  • We need to respond to regulatory, economic, competitive, and technological shifts and even in recent years global pandemics!
  • Pushing the same organisation, systems and processes does not work.
  • Change will now come through both periods of incremental as well as revolutionary change.
  • The intensity of global competition in the vertical markets that we serve means that these transformations need to be initiated and implemented rapidly.

Three-dimensional change is defining our future, and as a result, our effectiveness as leaders will be defined by our ability to navigate this new reality!

The three dimensions are:

Perpetual – occurring all of the time but not necessarily continuous!

Pervasive – unfolding in multiple areas all at once.

Exponential – accelerating at an increasingly rapid rate.

The textbook models for leadership were not built for this kind of change! The model of a single C-Suite leader being responsible for change is outdated thinking; the champions of managing change across an organisation come from all teams, groups and functional areas, these are the innovators.

How important is culture to you? What have you done to maintain/enhance the culture since the pandemic?

Very! Culture is not about mission, vision and values put on walls in picture frames, I ask every organisation the same question "If you have to put the word trust on a wall, does it really exist in your culture?" Culture is an attitude we all bring to work, so leadership is an important part of enhancing and maintaining a culture but it’s about the whole community. We created a culture through the pandemic centred around #togetherstronger. Going back to the word trust, if it’s not a word on a wall, the most important aspect of building trust, which is so important to creating and maintaining a great culture, is for leadership to seek input and more importantly to act on feedback. I always show appreciation every single day!

Fast forward to 2050.... what would you say to your future self… that you did well or badly in 2020 to learn from.

It's okay to be human - resilience is to recharge not to endure!

Looking back to March 2020. If you could change one decision that you made what would it be?

I closed my offices on 16th March 2020 a week ahead of the Government mandate, a decisive and supportive decision for all of my employees, something I am proud of! Perhaps If I could do one thing differently I would communicate more even when I did not know!

Most business leaders are talking about the lack of available talent being the main inhibitor of growth (achieving their strategic goals) – what are your thoughts on this and what are you doing about it?

Leaders make leaders, I address this by taking time to develop and trust the people I already have.

In what ways has the Executive Board dynamic had to evolve in your organisation in the last 3 years?

We are much bigger than we were, 10 mid-scale start-ups became one large organisation between 2017 and 2022, and the balance of skills and trust between each leader changed. With our scale, you cannot do everything, whereas before a leader would have most things bottlenecked with them, so I had to work on the dynamic encouraging focus, collaboration and trust, there can be no black box of finance! This requires improvements in meeting schedules, the use of email, and for me, memos not PowerPoints!

The Pandemic has caused many of us to reassess what is important in our lives. In what ways have you recalibrated your own personal priorities and goals?

Balance! I am more effective when I take time to recharge, it makes me more resilient. Secondly, I make time each day, and each week to learn, carving out my own personal appointments. It all boils down to a single thing of being present at home, and at work!

Have you/your business done anything unique/innovative in order to recruit or retain talent? 

We work with great people outside of the organisation who help us. From my perspective what we did really well was use social media to tell our story, which made people want to come and be part of something special.

Looking back on your career, what advice would you give to yourself if you could leap back 20-25 years? 

The importance of your network, make time for people to be human and become a really great listener. 

If you have enjoyed this blog and would like to learn more about Richard, click here to head to his LinkedIn. For more Unprecedented blogs like this one, click here

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