Leadership in 10 words – Terry Leahy

Telegraph photo

Telegraph phot0









Terry Leahy is now a start up entrepreneur, he was formerly CEO of wait for it….TESCO. Yes I said the dreaded word sorry. But there’s no denying that Mr leahy made a pretty impressive mark.

While he was CEO he concluded that Tesco should stop following a strategy of catch-up (chasing Marks & Spencer and Sainsburys) and start leading through market knowledge. This strength led to his success in devising and implementing the Tesco Clubcard loyalty programme and turning Tesco into a £2 billion profit company by 2005.

He feels ‘supermarkets are not the enemy of the high street‘? Well we can all have differing opinions about that but I’m sure we’ll agree that his leadership in 10 words are spot on and not the cut throat tone you may expect. I’ve nabbed the below from a great blog post by An Abundance summing them up.


As you may have gathered, this is fundamental to good leadership. If you don’t inspire trust, people  will probably still obey you but they may act reluctantly, half-heartedly and hesitantly.


Respect for others, integrity, perseverance, a clear sense of right and wrong — these values were drummed into me thanks to my Catholic upbringing.

In the rush to break down class barriers and end stifling traditions, such values were lost — and replaced by a sense that anything goes. Successful organisations, however, are underpinned by strong values. These govern how it behaves, what it sees as important, and what it does when faced with a problem — even down to what a shop assistant does when asked: ‘Where’s the ketchup?’

Tesco’s chief executive in Thailand — a fierce market — once cut our employees’ year-end bonus of an extra month’s pay. This grated with our values: I saw it as an unacceptable thing to do to people who were working flat-out to meet our goals. So we let the chief executive go.

Being true to a clear set of values — such as showing respect for others and rewarding people who do the right thing — enables trust and confidence to take root.


Without question, winning and retaining loyalty is the best objective any organisation can have. Every time anyone has a decision to make, they should ask themselves: ‘Will it make people more loyal to us or not?’

For a company to flourish, it has to form an attachment with you that is partly rational and partly emotional. Then you’ll instinctively return to shop at its store, invest in its stock and use its services.


I wouldn’t describe myself as naturally brave. Far from it: I’m both shy and cautious. I embark on a course of action only when I think I’m sure of the consequences and have assessed the risks.

But when I became chief executive, I had what I can only describe as a moment of clarity: I realised what our goals must be and wrote them down in the back of my diary as I waited for a flight.

First, I wanted us to overtake Marks & Spencer and become No 1 in the UK. Second, I wanted us to be as strong in non-food products — 3 per cent of the total back then — as we were in food. Third, I wanted to start a retailing services business — such as finance or telecommunications. And, finally, I wanted to have as much retail space overseas as we had in the UK.

At the time, my strategy was dismissed by many as naive.

The reality, however, is that  goals have to be bold and daring. They need to cause excitement and just a little fear.

And, yes, Tesco achieved them all.

5. ACT

Making a speech, winning an election, launching a policy paper — all that is one thing: turning honeyed words into reality is  quite another. Plans mean nothing if they’re not effectively enacted. After making a decision, you need to write down the sequence of events and actions required to turn it into a reality.

This sounds pedantic — but the danger is that if you don’t, there’ll be no common agreement about what needs to be done.


The challenge for any large organisation is not merely to create a sense of camaraderie but a framework in which each person can perform their roles as they best see fit.

That means encouraging initiative and making people take responsibility for their own actions.

This is a balanced organisation, in which everyone moves forward together, steered in the right direction.


A simple aim brings focus to what people do. A simple proposition is easy for people to understand.

Simple acts take less time to learn and less time to do and cost less.

Simple systems take less time to establish, are easy to change and are actually more satisfying for the people who work with them every day.

Indeed, simplicity is the knife that cuts through the tangled spaghetti of life’s problems.


Lean thinking doesn’t mean you want to sell less widgets; it’s a way of ensuring that fewer natural resources are used in their manufacture.

Take concentrated washing detergent. Traditional detergent is bulky and heavy, requires a  good deal of packaging and is expensive to transport — all of which eats into profits.

Concentrated washing detergent, by contrast, requires less packaging and therefore costs less to transport. It also allows clothes to be washed at lower temperatures, thus reducing energy consumption.

If everyone in the world switched to using it, we could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than four million tonnes — that is the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road.


Day in, day out, competitors are trying to outwit you and win your business away from you.

It’s as if you’re a politician but fighting for election every day. The temptation, therefore, is to shy away from competition.

Equally tempting, should you have vanquished your opponent, is to become complacent.

Or you may neglect to keep an eye open for lesser rivals quietly creeping up behind you.

All these tendencies are not merely mistakes but wasted opportunities. Competition should be embraced.

Compete, don’t retreat.


If I have to choose which of my ten words is the most important, I’d say it’s ‘truth’. Seeking and speaking the truth is not only morally right but the bedrock of successful management.

Root out the truth about any problems — then don’t hide what you’ve learned. Find the truthful answer to the question: ‘What’s the purpose of this organisation?’

Not least, you must be true to yourself and those around you.

The best source of the truth is often those you serve: your customers. Listen and learn from them, heed their advice — and you stand a greater chance of success.

It’s that simple.

Meet Naoko Takano a happiness engineer

Happiness A few months ago I decided to move my blog over to self hosting. Easy peasy I thought but it was a bit of a pain and my blog was ‘down’ for a while.

Since starting my blog I’ve discovered and met some amazing people. I suddenly felt pretty stressed this ‘portal’ wasn’t there and I didn’t know how to fix it.

I somehow stumbled across the amazing Naoko Takano through her blog. It stated she was a happiness engineer for WordPress so I sent a cry for help!

With her help and Alon from Go Daddy (who kindly called me from the US to chat through stuff) I got it all sorted. Both went out of their way and it felt above and beyond their jobs.

I asked Naoko a few questions about her role with the nice name and here’s what she had to say:

You’re a Happiness Engineer, what does your role entail?
Happiness Engineer’s goal is to make users happy and we do whatever it takes. Support, documentation, testing are the main things but sometimes it goes beyond any defined tasks.
I am currently focusing on WordPress.com translation (coordinating with volunteer & professional translators). I also speak at WordPress events in Japan from time to time.
If you are curious about the details, check out this link. I love the fact one of requirement is “patience and grace” http://automattic.com/work-with-us/happiness-engineer/

Who came up with the name ‘Happiness Engineer’?
Matt Mullenweg (the founder of WordPress and Automattic).

What inspires you or is the key to life?
The fact that anything is possible if I spend time and work hard.

What’s the kindest thing you’ve done for someone? Or someone has done for you?
The kindest thing I have done probably is patiently listening to a friend who was going through a very hard time.
The host family who let me live with them during my 2 year in high school in the U.S. were the kindest people I’ve met in my life and they certainly changed my life.

Thanks Naoko. I guess the host family left a lasting impression and your job title suits you.

World Kindness Day – November 13th


Luckily I’ve just discovered its World Kindness Day tomorrow. Yesss.

The day started in 1998, by the World Kindness Movement, which now contains 18 member nations. Who’d have thought hey.
The purpose of World Kindness Day is to ‘look beyond ourselves, our country, culture, race and religion; and realise we are citizens of the world.’ For true progress to be made, surely we have to focus on this commonality. We begin to experience empathy for each other when we have things in common – so be kindaware!

Louise Burfitt-Dons heads up Kindness Day UK, which aims to promote the value of kindness in society and the amount of kind acts on this day. Their mission is to make everyone in the UK carry out an act of kindness on November 13th, what may you do?

She’s a very impressive women, check her out.

Social enterprise in hospitality: STREAT

Could you have a sustainable social enterprise helping homeless people and selling coffee?  Surely the skills and scaling would make it unfeasible and that’s why in Australia, there are no precedents for hospitality enterprises?

Rebecca Scott is the co-founder of STREAT with her partner. It’s a social enterprise that operates cafés, coffee carts and a coffee roastery in Melbourne. They selected the location carefully after conceptualising it in Canberra initially but Canberra proved too small. They moved it to Melbourne, where the city not only loves hospitality and trying new things but also has a longer history of philanthropy. Once the idea was researched and a concrete business plan was in place, they pitched the idea to some Danish philanthropists, who ended up funding them – $700,000!

Rebecca I salut you.

Read the full interview with Rebecca for Smart Company, it’s well worth it:

we looked specifically for investors who wanted both a social and financial return on investment. So you would call them high impact investors. Every year we report to them on financial terms and very tangible social outcomes on each individual site.’

Social Enterprise in childcare: London Early Years Foundation

This feature by Social Enterprise is one of the most exciting I’ve ever read. Why?

In the future I’d love to run a nursery, giving places to families who can’t afford it. It’s been a dream of mine the last 5 years since doing work experience in a nursery. It’s great to read such an in-depth interview with June O’Sullivan, who’s the CEO of the leading childcare social enterprise, London Early Years Foundation (LEYF). She took it through a transformational process and re-brand in 2005 but was sensitive to the heritage of the company in doing so.

Its annual turnover has increased from £2m to £8.5m but she’s aiming on a turnover of £50m, by running 50 nurseries in up to 15 London boroughs (currently it’s in 5 boroughs). And she believes in a very collaborative approach.

She’s transformed it from a charity reliant on funds for 60% of its income, to being a fully self-sufficient social enterprise model and a very successful one at that.

The current economic and social climate is a good one for social enterprise, as more people are interested in doing good and moving away from pure capitalism. It’s great that the appetite is there but June doesn’t feel we’re fully capitalizing off it in childcare, as the public consciousness isn’t there quite yet. Her ambition (for social enterprise in childcare) is benchmarked against the Fair trade market, where everyone understands that you’re paying for the best because it’s doing good somewhere else.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for how LEYF do and hopefully I may even get to work with them.

Hereos – Simon Griffiths from Who Gives a crap

There are some people in life who do great things and Simon Griffiths is one of them. My gorgeous friend Leanne Hammill works for the Loop in Australia and knows my love of social enterprise. She kindly sent me this as she thought I’d love it, and she was right. Great interview with the man himself.

Simon is a social entrepreneur, sounds good huh, wouldn’t we all like to be?

He’s the founder of ‘Who gives a crap’ and works in a team of three, with the perfect combination of skillsets (economics, product design and engineering). You can meet the team here. They wanted to make a difference and set up ‘Who gives a crap’, a brand new toilet paper brand. 50% of the profits go to developing countries, via WaterAid, to help provide better sanitation and more toilets.

They needed to raise £50,000 to be able to start the brand and put in a bulk order, so they did a crowd funding campaign. Simon sat on the loo at 6am July 10th, recorded via Google Hangouts, so it was all live streamed and didn’t get off until the £50,000 had been raised. Put your money where your pants are (sorry had to.)

They successfully raised £60,000 in fact and are hoping to corner the business market for bulk orders.

They won a bunch of business plan awards and spent two years perfecting the product and viable business model. What a bloody brilliant project.


Sunday Sermon Challenge: #Treasure Chest

Life can sometimes be shitty. Yesterday I woke up wondering if the last few weeks had been a dream, I hoped they had. I’ve had the saddest news of my life but also the best, all within the space of a week.

I’ve been trying to be positive about the sad news but am just not even close yet. Everyone else seems to be doing ok, so why aren’t I? Does this make me selfish?

Rich Sullivan kindly sent me the below. He teases me about my blog so I’ll get him back by mentioning him! I’m not religious and although my blog title has religious connotations, it’s the sentiment that’s important.

The School of Life do a Sunday Sermon and if anyone has been, they’re pretty inspirational. So today’s post is a little Sunday Sermon, a challenge in fact, after watching Anthony Robbins in the below. It’s not for everyone but do stick with it until the end, it’s 30 minutes. The Foundation he set up and background on him is here – the stats and accolades are very impressive and can’t be dismissed.

What the hell is a Treasure Chest?

We all may have times when we overreact, when things have layered up and up, so it can create an overwhelming reaction that seems disproportionate. Anthony refers to this as emotional flooding. The remedy? Build a treasure chest of your happiest memories, so you’re flooding your nervous system with positive emotions.

When I got the awful news 2 weeks ago, I went home to see my dad (my mum was over in the US sorting a few things out). Seeing my dad and brother, sitting in the garden, looking through family photo albums, helped fill my treasure chest.

We can all create a positive impact for others and getting out of our ‘self’ is something we can all train at. What’s in your treasure chest?