Vicki previously worked for transformational change consultancy t-three as a Principal Consultant where she focussed on the design and delivery of leadership and talent development programmes for clients.
There has never been a better time for us to expand and create a unique space for Vicki here at Greenacre, and we’ve been lucky to have already worked alongside her where she has helped us create, launch and develop our #EasternLeaders2020 programme. The programme is designed to support and guide leaders in developing critical skills and behaviours and grow their confidence in leading against the backdrop of the pandemic.
As an introduction, I’ve collared Vicki into answering some questions about herself and how she came to join Greenacre Consult!
Welcome Vicki! It’s great to have you on board, already you’ve made a really positive impact on the whole Greenacre team. What were you doing before you joined us, and how does it differ from your new role?
Thank you, it’s great to be onboard! Before joining Greenacre, I spent several years working mainly on leadership, team development and culture change programmes with a focus on behaviour change. Ranging from designing and delivering large scale change programmes across the UK and worldwide, to executive team development and one to one coaching. The client base also varied from technology, manufacturing and engineering companies to local authorities, Universities and the fire and rescue service.
One of the key differences in this role is that I am working closely with Dan on the strategic direction for Greenacre Consult and our offering. We are really clear on our purpose, which is it to help grow and develop leadership talent across the housing sector. That talent ranges from aspiring leaders and those new to leadership roles, to mid to senior level leaders, who need to continue to build their skills and behaviours to be successful in the future. This doesn’t mean we only work in the housing sector, and we are already working with clients in other public sector organisations. It does mean we are clear on what we are here to do and how we support the sector in providing a holistic offering to an already existing and new client base.
You clearly have a passion for leadership and people development – when did you realise this was your forte and how did it develop into the specialisms you possess today? Was there a turning point that led you to focus on this direction?
I’ve always been interested in the uniqueness of individuals and understanding a person’s motivations, preferences and strengths. What I began to observe over the years is that you get the best results when you focus on what people naturally do best and maximise the diversity of strengths in a team.
My background is in business and organisational development and several years ago I was able to look directly at performance data relating to teams working across various specialist disciplines. You could see a direct correlation between the performance and engagement of teams where the leader was taking a strengths-based approach, versus the ones where there was little diversity and a focus on weakness fixing.
This was a turning point that led me to study strengths-based leadership and development and become a Certified Strengths Coach. Through applying these practices and building the concept into development programmes I’ve seen some fantastic results. There is nothing better than seeing an individual’s confidence and energy increase when they understand what’s best about them and how to apply their strengths to help them lead more effectively and motivate their followers.
I love working with teams to leverage their strengths and how to use and combine them to build consciousness and awareness around diversity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace. For me it’s really rewarding to see teams overcome challenges with each other and learn to appreciate their differences through an understanding of their strengths.
You spend a lot of time helping others to develop their leadership and people skills – have you had any personal challenges in these areas yourself? How did you manage to overcome these?
One of my big ‘a-ha’s’ was recognising that my strengths have needs. When they don’t get what they need they can get grumpy and tired, in the same way as when we’re hungry and don’t get fed. This has been important in helping me to understand what I need, my triggers of frustration and where to spend my time to maximise my energy and productivity levels. I’ve also learnt that I can’t expect people to understand what my needs are, or to place my own expectations onto others which can be hard sometimes!
I used to think of my weaknesses as the things I’m not good at, which is in part true, yet most of our weaknesses come from our strengths when we misapply them. I love to research and find out information and I have to be deliberate about the time I spend doing this, otherwise it can take me down a rabbit hole and distract me when I need to be doing other things. I also love improving things and have to be careful not to overdo this to the point that nothing every seems good enough, which on a personal level drives my husband mad when it comes to our house!
We have to talk about the P word! Before the pandemic struck, work and home life was very different for most of us…what has changed for you, and how has this impacted your career journey?
Before the pandemic I was spending at least 2 sometimes 3 days a week travelling to and from client locations, quite often overnight. I haven’t left my home for work since the end of March last year, so you could say it has changed quite dramatically in that respect! Having spent a number of years travelling regularly with work, it felt a little unusual at first to be spending so much time at home with my husband and two dogs! Yet I’ve come to really value that time and I’ve been lucky enough to work in an area where remote working had already been increasing so it has been a relatively smooth transition.
Despite the pandemic, work in itself is still the same in that we all get up everyday and want to do something of value. It led me to reflect on my own strengths and values and whether what I was doing was really playing to those. When the opportunity came up to work directly for Greenacre it felt like a great values fit and match to my strengths and the right next step in my career journey.
We’ve seen a lot of transformational leadership emerging recently as it became necessary to adapt, develop new skills effective at leading remote teams & organisations, and find new ways to support and innovate individuals and teams from afar. What leadership behaviours would you say are most important to develop and nurture as an effective post-Covid leader?
I think the behaviours to be an effective post-Covid leader are the same leadership behaviours that have always been important. The pandemic has shone a light on the leaders who aren’t displaying these behaviours and shown us what we already knew which is that our employees are our most important asset.
The ability to listen, hear and act on employees’ concerns is one of the most important skills a leader can have. It’s listening without judgment, advice giving, distraction, interruption and about being present and asking the right questions. Leaders are having to go deeper and develop empathy to feel with people and connect to a person’s individual situation. It’s showing you really care about the person. Leaders who do this well build trust, which is needed for any relationship to be successful, and this ultimately leads to results. And when it comes to creating diverse and inclusive workplaces where people feel that they belong, the ability to listen, hear and act on employees’ concerns is a key driver of success.
Wellbeing is going be something that becomes embedded into corporate cultures and leaders will need to be able to pick up on the signs that some individuals are struggling and help themselves and their people stay resilient and productive.
As we move through 2021 things are going to be unstable and continue to change. The ability to be able tackle the challenges and be flexible in pivoting as often as the changing conditions need you to is going to be a leadership superpower.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most in your new role here at Greenacre?
So many things! For me one of the most exciting parts is to be involved in Greenacre Consult from the beginning and having the opportunity to play a part in its development and growth. With Greenacre Recruitment already well established and continuing to grow, we have the chance to build a holistic offering for our clients which is really exciting.