The death of Arnold Clark aged 89, Britain’s first £billion car sales business evoked an outpouring of warm tributes from politicians, employees and business leaders. A life well lived, a business well-run, a passion for his product, his employees and customers.
From humble beginnings to a huge business empire, two words are often associated with him - 'humble and humour'. Legendary tales abound of his passion to understand all aspects of his business, leading brave new directions at the top, truly understanding how employees felt, to actually serving customers at various branches; often unannounced.
Leadership comes in many varieties, but the sharp contrast between the late Arnold Clark and Oscar Munoz, the embattled boss of United Airlines could hardly be more stark. They are both in the business of transport and each sector has real challenges in today's rapidly changing environment. The events of this week at United need no amplification; suffice to say that there is enough 'how not to' material to feed every other airline and large enterprise, with some spare for business school case studies for the foreseeable future.
Throughout the ages, we have searched for the perfect formula that constitutes great leadership. In measured proportions, great leaders are said to demonstrate bold but reasoned judgement, spirited but calculated risk-taking and an assertive but reflective disposition. Perhaps sitting alongside this thinking is being able to use best judgement when a situation goes wrong, and having the courage to draw a line, move on and set example by a new response.
Each year we work with industry to identify emerging leaders and to promote and encourage their success. The customer service community thrives on great leadership, starting at the front-line. Make sure the colleagues in your business receive the recognition they deserve – take a look at the Excellence Awards categories for 2017 which will do just that.