||Central Bank Of Barbados
“I think I am fortunate to lead a talented bunch of individuals and that my management team has been able to harness their collective abilities to create a culture that works.”
Chief Executive Officer of Signia Finanical, Paul Ashby, cautions fellow leaders not to take their roles lightly. Why? Because, as he reminded, leaders set the tone for their organisations. “One of the things I have learnt over time is that the organisation takes on the persona of the person who leads it,” he shared with fellow participants in his talk on Transformational Leadership: Leading from the Core.
Showing his own understanding of his influence as a leader, Ashby said, “I realised from very early that my role as a leader will be reflected in the culture of my organisation whether I do something or I do nothing. Therefore, when I lead I am always deliberate and strategic in the things I do in an effort to create the culture I envision and want.”
Ashby shared a number of approaches that his company has adopted to transform the culture and the organisation.
“One of the things we did was what can be called creating Intrapreneurs (entrepreneurs on their job), where people got to work on specialised projects outside of their core duties. Teams were developed to work on the website, to work on customer service, to work on brand development, to work on staff activities. This is particularly important for the millennial group.”
Another of Ashby’s unorthodox tactics has its origins in one of the workplace’s longstanding traditions – staff meetings. While meetings are held monthly, it is not he or his management team who lead them, but rather the general staff. Moreover, a feature of those meetings is a session during which employees learn how the business works and how it is faring. The rational for this is simple, says Ashby: “We do this so that people make the connection between what they do and how the company performs.”
The CEO also outlined his philosophy about the role businesses should play in transforming Barbados. He noted that his company saw the importance of developing external talent that could become potential advocates and customers. “We deliberately set out to build a corporate image of assisting young, upcoming talent in the non-traditional areas, but areas that could be future careers for them. So we support the arts, film, music, sports,” he explained. He revealed that his company has supported projects such as Keeping up with the Joneses and artistes such as Ian Webster and Neesha Woodz in their early years.
Ashby reflected on what he has learnt in the last six years and pointed out that his company’s learning environment did not only cater to employees but to him as well. In concluding his speech, Ashby encouraged leaders to practice what he calls, “dispassion”, a skill which, while seemingly counterintuitive, he sees as necessary to keep things balanced. He told those in the room that as leaders they should never forget the people they guide because they are the reason for what they do as leaders. “Let your people shine and relish in their success because their success is yours too!”