Legacy of Inspiration
If leaders aspire to create a culture of inspiration, one of the biggest questions for them to ask themselves is "Will what I have started endure?"
When I established Luminus Group in Cambridgeshire, UK and acquired almost 7,500 municipal homes that had a history of inadequate management and investment, I was committed not merely to run a successful, socially responsible real estate business, but to energise an enterprise that would become a movement for change in British society.
So I gave it the name "Luminus" (later copied several times by others!) with the strapline "Demonstrating a more excellent way of doing business in an ambiguous world."
Luminus would work to help bring about transformation by exampling excellent customer services and employment practices. Customers and staff alike would know that they really were valued. Inspired staff would give inspirational service. Inspired customers would join us in pursuing our "2020 Vision" and in making progress along "The Road to Renewal".
At the heart of this were several factors, of which two were key: culture and leadership.
To succeed, and continue succeeding, Luminus would need to develop and sustain an inspirational culture. And leadership was the key requirment to initiate an inspirational culture, to envision staff, board and the public, and to maintain this through the tough times that are part of normal life.
We succeeded beyond expectations.
Between 2000-2016, Luminus joined the UK's best-known brands for high-performing customer services, for employee inspiration and for loyalty by both, winning more awards than any other UK business (in any sector) - including being a great employer, health and safety, customer services, diversity, staff and consumer engagement and others.
So, having left Luminus it was especially gratifying to see many social media posts by a delegates at a Leaders & Entrepreneurs' Business Conference at which I was the speaker the day before about "Culture that Inspires Success." In one of these, they show a photo of a Luminus van that was on the road ahead, with all those inspirational, world-changing straplines clearly visible. And it excited him!
Looking at the rear of the van, imagining the inspired driver at the wheel, this business owner now was able to visually connect with the embodiment of the inspiration he had so clearly felt the evening before during my talk.
And his comment was, "...your influence on my day continues and yes something good did happen to me today."
Of course, I sincerely hope that the inspired culture that sustained Luminus' outstanding success continue, but changed management brings changed approaches. The sad reality is that inspiring employees isn't a priority of most boards, CEOs and managing directors in UK businesses, whose focus is often on "bottom line" issues. It explains why so much of the British workforce feel Friday is the best day of the week. For too many, work is "a Monday-Friday kind of dying."
Nevertheless, it's encouraging to see the validation of our approach to leadership in the comments of a virtual stranger who, simply by attending a Leadership International session, experienced that unique quality of inspiration himself.
He and other delegates clearly had begun to grasp our 2020 Vision, and to start their own journey along The Road to Renewal!
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