In order to successfully inform and inspire business leaders of the future, we have been interviewing CEOs across a variety of industry sectors. Martin Farrow of Optalis is our most recent guest.
As an individual who has spent time in a variety of Leadership roles in the corporate world, Martin’s views on leadership are influenced by his experiences and make for insightful advice for those looking to lead people in the future.
How do you view your role as a leader?
“The role of a leader can be split in three ways; the first is establishing the direction of travel. It’s important to do that inclusively, you can’t just email the strategy out – people need to be engaged and involved from the get-go. The second is to ensure you have great people on board who are inspired to do amazing things. And the third is to make sure you’ve got the right culture. If you get the right culture, you’re going to get great people doing great things which combined will deliver your strategy.
In an organisation the size of Optalis, how do you ensure that the culture is disseminated effectively?
Making sure that my board has the same view and approach is absolutely key because what they can do is then make sure that our message, our values, our ethos emanates throughout the organisation. The Optalis leadership team is transparent and accessible; our desks are spread around the office – we don’t lock ourselves away in our own offices all day with the doors closed.
What do you feel are important leadership capabilities for 2019?
“You have to accept the fact that you don’t know everything so your first priority should be to develop your knowledge base by working with, and supporting talented people. As leader your task is to inspire people to do great things so it is incumbent on you to make sure they have everything they need – in terms of tools and information – to achieve their goals.”
“One of the key challenges of leadership is relinquishing control and the hardest single part of this process is judging the right time to give them that responsibility. You have to give them the ability to excel, and support that, but it means you’ve got to be brave and not micro-manage them. You’ve got to make sure that you get that distance right”.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to develop a career in Leadership?
“Choose your boss and have a constant appetite to listen and learn. Work with great people and recognise that your job as a leader is about fulfilling the potential of those around you to be the best they can be. Build the strategy together so everyone is involved and don’t give up or be a friend of phrase ‘the problem is’. Finally, try every day to be inspired and be inspiring”.
“Keep it simple and clear, keep close to the important things and be true to your values. I was told once that if you don’t start something or don’t finish something then you are in trouble. That’s good advice”.
Martin has been with Optalis for almost 18 months and leads a team of over 700 to make a difference to nearly 5,000 customers across Windsor, Maidenhead, Wokingham and beyond.
If you would like to have a confidential conversation about your career, please get in touch today.