Kevin Gaskell became CEO of Porsche UK at the age of 32. He turned the business around and purchased Lamborghini whilst there before moving on five years later to lead BMW GB. Since then he has become something of a corporate trailblazer founding start-ups, driving turnarounds and leading major brands in a variety of sectors. He has also used his leadership skills to take teams on Everest and to the north and south poles.
Gaskell's proposition is that "ordinary people led well can achieve extraordinary things". His core distinction is between incentivizing people and inspiring them. "If you know how to inspire those around you, they stop trying to chase immediate rewards, and they start thinking about building something that lasts, making meaningful changes to the lives of their customers, their colleagues and themselves".
So what is the formula for becoming a leader that can get ordinary people to perform extraordinarily? What is it that you need to be inspirational? For many of us that extra element might seem slightly mystical; a special manner or charisma that some people just have. Gaskell does not wholly subscribe to this view, though he admits some are going to be better at it than others, but he proposes that anyone can learn the core competencies needed. He sees it as a mixture of three core components: Commit, Connect and Create.
The commitment needs to come with integrity. Gaskell's biography shows that the wild plans dreamt up in the pub have a habit of coming true with him; viz his expeditionary exploits. He breaks the Commit into several sections, Dare to Dream; Overcome Fear; Build Belief; Turn around Negativity; and Share commitment through structured teamwork, removing any self-imposed limitations.
Connect by enabling people to discover and vlaue their roles. The sub-elements of which he describes as 'Begin at the End' to show your vision; 'In Command, Out of Control', lead but don't micromanage; 'Be Better, then Bigger' emphasizing qulity not profit; Uncover creativity by allowing ideas to flourish; and Instil urgency through a 1,000 day plan that focuses on the projects and priorities.
The Create component is about creating a culture of continuous change and innovation. It requires a fun environment that is fair and achievement oriented. Praise achievement rather than scolding failure. Keep the structure as flat as you can to avoid unnecessary hierarchy.
Over-arching all this is the ability for the leader to be as honest as possible, recognising their and others mistakes as well as successes and adapting to those.
This book is written with an assurance that you would expect of someone who has been so successful, but it also comes with a personable and approachable style that will make the reader feel as if they are being coached rather than lectured. Gaskell is undoubtedly a man who is used to command, he not only has the ability to focus determinedly on the job in hand, he takes himself seriously as well as what he is doing. This self-belief is an unwritten motif of the book.
You can hear directly from Gaskell, when he speaks to Roddy Millar on the Ideas for Leaders podcast.
Title: Inspired Leadership: How You Can Achieve Extraordinary Results in Business
Author/s Name/s: Kevin Gaskell
Publishing Date: September 2017
Number of Pages: 245
Author Knowledge Rating: 1-5 (based on their years of experience, academic expertise in subject areas, and exposure to cross-functional thinking in the area)
Readability: 1-5 score(1=dense and v academic; 5=frantic; page turner)
Appropriate Length: (1=could have been written in 25% of the length;5=could have been longer)
Core Idea Value: (1=nonsense (or entirely esoteric); 5=game-changer)