Last week saw our first virtual Future Leaders event. What has previously been a “lunch & learn” style event with us all gathered around a large table in an interactive session, this time was conducted via Zoom. Our speaker was Gregor Urquhart – Head of Smarter, Wealthier & Fairer Marketing at the Scottish Government.
Whilst I’ve found each event interesting, this one was made even more so by the fact we had Gregor speaking during a global pandemic. During which time, the Scottish Government are probably working faster than they have had to for decades.
There were two clear halves to his presentation. The first included several inspirational quotes and helpful working strategies. Following which, the second half focussed on how the coronavirus has essentially tossed all their usual processes and strategies in the bin – Gregor’s words not mine. He compared the last couple of working months to the famous Wallace & Gromit train chase scene from their 1993 film ‘The Wrong Trousers’. For those who aren’t W&G fans, Gromit is quite literally at the front carriage, laying down train tracks during the chase, in order to keep going.
My favourite part of these events is hearing what leadership means to the speakers. So, without further ado, here are Gregor’s views on leadership (both pre and mid COVID-19):
Leadership comes from all over
Especially during the current pandemic, Gregor explained that people who perhaps aren’t the most senior in terms of hierarchy have become real leaders over the past 2 months.
By setting the ground work
He explained that whilst this is often the boring stuff e.g. making sure everyone can work from home, this ground work enables people to deliver.
Sharing the destination
The best leaders have a vision, but they also give people the freedom to get there how they see best.
Calm under pressure
Gregor specifically called out Pauline Aylesbury (Head of Marketing & Insight), who’s been amazing at keeping a level head over the past months.
Following on from no.4, he said this quality is only as strong as it is consistent.
Gregor’s had great line managers who were terrible leaders and vice versa – the main difference being that leaders “walk the talk” and behave in the way they’re expecting others to.
When Gregor goes through the revolving doors at work each morning, he leaves any personal problems at the door, puts his game face on and goes into “leadership mode”.
Jayne Watson is an Account Director at MediaCom in Edinburgh. LinkedIn // @mediacom_EDI