Roger Delves is a professor of Leadership Practice and dean of Qualifications at Ashridge Executive Education. His special interests are helping others understand the roles of authenticity, emotional intelligence, ethics, values, principles and integrity in leadership and the development of ethical decision-making methodologies.
Delves studied at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, and is a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society of Arts). He is qualified in a range of psychometric tools and has designed and led tailored, open, and qualifications programmes. He has taught across most of Western Europe and in Turkey, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Rumania, Qatar, America, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Brazil, Australia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.
He also previously worked for the international advertising agency DMB&B (D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles), where he was a UK board director. In addition, he spent several years as a principal consultant at Ellis Hayward, and then six years as a programme director within Cranfield’s Centre for Customised Executive Education.
He has been at Ashridge since April 2008 and is the co-author of The Top Fifty Management Dilemmas and Branded Britain (Bloomsbury). He is also co-editor of Inspired Leadership (Bloomsbury).
In this interview, Delves shares insights into how leaders can optimise their impact. He also tells us why he recommends that executives attend TEXEM UK’s forthcoming programme on Strategic Leadership For Optimised Organisational Performance In An Era Of Uncertainty, which he and Professor Paul Griffith, Ambassador Charles Crawford and Professor Rodria Laline, will help deliver the live sessions of. The programme is slated to hold between May 21 and June 11.
How can leaders build their brand, and why is this important for their organisation?
Leaders develop their brand best by being authentic (so that their brand is genuine) and by being consistent (so that they deliver their brand regardless of situation or circumstance). Being authentic means being your real or true self the whole time at work. That true self should allow a high degree of transparency, meaning that people can see the values that guide you, the purpose that guides you, and can see these values and this purpose reflected in how you live your life day to day. Your team members should also see your authenticity reflected in the decisions you make and in the consistency of your decision-making – you make decisions that are congruent with your values and purpose and not simply situation dependent. The likes of Tony Elumelu, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello are fantastic examples of leaders who have built their brands and unlocked strategic value for their organisations and nation.
Why is psychological safety important in organisations?
Without psychological safety, people do not feel able to join in difficult conversations, say, or hear what must be said or heard. Nor do they feel safe failing, so they don’t try the sort of new things that might make a real difference. Psychological safety is at the heart of successful teams because without this sense of security, it is hard for team members to engage with the team’s work, and unengaged team members will never work with the application and attitude of engaged team members. This sense of safety also allows team members to feel that they can be themselves within the team – and that too helps them work to the best effect. Team members who do not feel that they can safely be themselves within a team will never work with the same application or aptitude as team members who feel free to be their authentic selves at work. Psychological safety could lead to a culture of humility and respect and enhance the organisations’ capability to adapt, innovate and be agile. Organisations can enhance their psychological safety by investing in executive development programmes such as that of TEXEM, the UK, on situational awareness, addressing all forms of biases through self-awareness and ethical leadership.
How can leaders optimise their impact?
Same as above: by being authentic consistently. By having values and a purpose that is transparent and worthy and living to those values and purpose regardless of situation or circumstance day in and day out. Teams want to be well-led and want their leaders to be trusted and great leaders who are excellent at inspiring and motivating the team. Therefore, team members will work hard to help a leader who is evidently working hard to be the very best leader that they can be. In contrast, team members led by a leader who is self-interested rather than fundamentally driven by the team’s interests and the organisation will never have the trust in that leader that is necessary if the team optimises its performance. The key for a leader to consistently make a positive difference is to embrace a growth mindset, be self-aware, constantly explore self-renewal and enshrine the principle of lifelong learning.
How can leaders enhance their teams’ impact?
Teams need a clear sense of vision, mission, and purpose, clear goals which are stated and then not changed, and a culture that is positive and which offers safety to all. Leaders must constantly model the culture that they want the team to live in, and leaders must organise their own time so that they have the time to invest in the people they lead. For teams to maximise their impact, they have to create high achieving cultures, and this means that both the leader and the team members must have the available time to invest in relationship building. Leaders should invest their time in team building, creating places of psychological safety, developing a coaching culture, and all the other intangible but time-consuming things that go into building high-performing teams genuinely.
In these times of uncertainty, how can leaders optimise their organisational performance?
Offer Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility to combat Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA and the antidote)
Why should executives attend this forthcoming TEXEM programme?
First, to explore ideas that work, like those outlined here. Time spent in personal development, exploring new ideas, understanding them, and understanding how to apply them to the workplace, is never wasted. The most cost and time-efficient way for organisations to improve is by doing more and doing better with their resources. Developing leaders in ways that will allow those leaders to build their teams into high-performing teams is an excellent example of how to do more with what you have. TEXEM’s impressive research of topics and her effective methodology assure that executive development programmes are fun, actionable and impactful. Also, the design of this programme, Strategic Leadership for optimised performance in an era of uncertainty. The TEXEM design of this forthcoming programme comprises self-study and live engaging sessions that are flexible and ensure that executives can learn and still work. The following testimonials from previous delegates, which is available on TEXEM’s website, confirm the quality and the value of their executive development programme.
“It’s a very insightful and worthy programme on Leadership and Executive Management. It has opened my eyes to understanding that you also have to be an effective follower to be an effective leader. I need to surround myself with people better than me and learn from them.”
TEXEM delegate, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, Lagos State, Head of Service.
“It’s the first time I’m doing a programme in Nigeria, and it’s actually very interesting. The first thing I liked about it is the diversity of the participants and the quality of the network. I also like the edgy conversations we had with Christian and Dr Alim Abubakre. It’s quite thought-provoking“. Effiong Okon, Operations Director, Seplat
“The programme is an excellent one, it’s a world-class Institute, looking at the quality of materials, the quality of the Facilitators, I think it’s a world-class programme. It could be anywhere in the world, and it’s a good standard.” Previous TEXEM delegate, Glory O. Idehen, Head of E-Training, C.B.N.