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How to Have Integrity in Business

"Kindness, we believe is a very powerful quality in business. You can actually create an awful lot more good in terms of profits through kindness than you can by being tough. And I think we've done well until this year. It has been difficult to make money when we've got the shop shut, but even through the lockdown and very tough times of 2020, I think the great strength of our business has been the people who serve the customers. They've been doing amazingly well when it's just been so difficult."

Those are the words of Sir John Timpson and it’s tough not to like this successful human. Not just successful because of Timpsons but because of everything he stands for, the support he has given to many for no accolade, other than he knows it’s the right thing to do. He is not hiding his money from taxes, and is still ensuring he is investing in society, not only financially but also in time. When I think of integrity in business, I think of Sir John Timpson.

I shared my thoughts on the impact of COVID:

“There was this really interesting dynamics that I saw with COVID that people were then looking at their employees, and they were starting to think "Oh, actually, I didn't know that they had three children or took care of their sick mother at home. But now I understand that because we're actually having meetings during the day. And what it did was highlight that within so many businesses were lacking a huge amount of empathy and understanding on what is somebody's life outside of work.”

John's response was as you would expect.

Interesting, you should mention that because one of the things I put in 15 years ago into a leadership course was a little exercise to find out how well you know your people. It's just a series of questions, which say, what's the name of their partner? What are their children called? What car do they drive, what football team do they support, where they're like going on holiday? Simple questions about a person and if it was the area manager, they would typically have about 50 to 80 people in the whole area they're looking after. We pick one, and we've already asked that person and found all the answers. I just did that to make exactly the point that you're making, that you can't be a leader if you don't know your people. That doesn't mean what their payroll number is. It means what their life is like. It means that our area teams can give a birthday present to each of their teams. If they really know what their lives are about they can give them an appropriate present. They know whether they're teetotal or not, so they know which football team they support and all that sort of stuff. So it becomes relevant."

Click below to listen to the full interview, it's well worth it!


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