Curiosity, empathy and values are three of the most important qualities needed in a leader according to Tesco CEO, Dave Lewis, who visited Nottingham to talk about leadership at a Nottingham Business School (NBS) and Institute of Directors (IoD) event.
At the conversational style event, Mr Lewis – who is an NBS alumnus – was interviewed by his former tutor and NBS principal lecturer, Dave Doughty, about his personal experiences in business, his inspirations, his desire for new challenges and his passion for developing people.
He said: “I get my inspiration through new experiences, places and situations, something which might be normal to others can be inspirational to me. It also comes from the people I’ve worked with and the things we’ve done collectively. Watching people achieve more than they ever thought was possible is very inspiring.”
Mr Lewis, who has been CEO of Tesco for two years, was the first ever student from a then Polytechnic to be accepted on the graduate scheme at Unilever, where he went on to work for 27 years across various departments located in a range of countries.
Sharing his views on leadership and what makes a good leader, he said: “I believe that good leaders are genuinely curious about people, they have an empathy for culture and understand when they need to adapt. They should also have values and the resilience to stand up for what they think is right when they’re tested.
“When it comes to developing leaders, the best training is personalised to the individual, if you can find out what makes a person tick and tailor the offering to them the results can be remarkable. Giving someone an opportunity or support they wouldn’t have got themselves and watching them grow is just brilliant, the ability to grow people is infectious to me.”
For budding leaders, Mr Lewis had this advice, “Show yourself as someone who wants to make an above average contribution.”
Ron Lynch, IoD East Midlands regional director, welcomed members and business leaders to the event, which also featured a talk from James Sproule, IoD chief economist and director of policy. He spoke about topics such as banking, borrowing and tax, and gave an optimistic view of the UK’s economic future.