Taking the lead: Hertfordshire CFO Roy Wilsher explains his ideas regarding leadership, touching on several experiences that informed his philosophy including Buncefield.(Learning & Development)

LEADERSHIP. NOT MANY WORDS in the English language conjure up such potent and varied images as leadership. Most people have a view on what leadership is or who is a great leader, the topic can generate enough debate to fill hours of lecture time or thousands of pages in a plethora of books. Type 'leadership' into a search engine and it produces 123 million hits. Surely all that can be written about leadership has already been written. Well, maybe, but I hope this article provides some food for thought and a slightly different and personal angle on the subject.

Like a lot of people who have an interest in the topic of leadership, I have some favourite quotes about leadership. One, not particularly aimed at leadership but which certainly rings true in my experience, is from the American journalist Herbert B Snape: 'I cannot give the formula for success but I can give you the formula for failure: which is try to please everybody'. Having recognised that you cannot please everybody, certainly not all of the time, this view is balanced by another of my favourite quotes: 'Look over your shoulder now and then to be sure someone's following you' (Henry Gilmer). We all know of dynamic individuals who see themselves as leaders who have rushed forward with plans only to discover they lost the team along the way.


Another often-discussed aspect of leadership is one of style. A favourite interview question I have come across is the one that asks about leadership style as if leadership can be categorised into distinct silos from which you as a leader have to choose. I describe my 'style' as adaptive. I find that different situations call for different leadership styles and the skill is to use the most appropriate style at the right time. Dynamic, autocratic, democratic, expert, the leader as a follower; they all have their place. …

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