John is Professor of Practice, Sports Business Performance at Ashridge Business School. He teaches leadership, team dynamics, coaching, change and personal performance.
He is also Head of Coach Development at the England Cricket Board, having experience of working with elite international sports teams as a consultant psychologist responsible for organisational dynamics and the individual performance of players and coaches.
What does ‘leading differently’ mean to you?
It means leading your own way. The ‘difference’ is how you do it, not how you read it in a book or were taught it on a course. The fundamental difference for me is that you work it out for yourself - and then do what’s right for you in the environment you’re in and for the people you’re leading.
So what is different or unique about your leadership style?
It’s based upon a balance between that which I think I should do and that which I need to do. It will constantly vary because it’s in a complex environment - based upon the environment I’m in and the people I’m leading. So I have to change to get the best out of them and me.
What has been your greatest learning experience that has helped you develop your leadership style?
I’ve been at Ashridge Business School as a tutor for about three months and there, a man called Gene Horan has encouraged me and given me the opportunity to do my work.
And most importantly he gave me feedback and top line cover - because it didn’t all go right - but he just encouraged me and made sure that I was protected from failure. He’s a good man.
What can people expect to learn from your session?
The one thing I’d like them to understand is that pressure is internal not external.
Looking to the future - how do you think leadership is changing?
I think it will change because more people will have access to knowledge and information. That knowledge won’t be exclusively held at universities and business schools, so more people will be able to learn about leadership.
The evolving environment, particularly regarding technology, will mean that more people will be doing leadership. There’ll be fewer hierarchical teams and more people will be able to lead. I’ll give you an example – a business school might have 44 faculties and a whole leadership team – but there are now lots of individuals who are real experts in their field, who can get a website and get global coverage. So the old hierarchical teams and leadership of them, is history.