Does the company make the man or the man make the company?

For this blog I considered being very political and doing something around the HR implications for BREXIT and what I thought about what this might mean… and then I realised that if I was getting to the point of being bored listening to other’s opinions on it, then surely that would mean that others must be too? So, instead, I have reflected on a situation that is far closer to home.
 
The company I work for was established 18 months ago and the MD has been a real figurehead – the passion, motivation and care he has shown for this company have drawn people to work for it and given the people within it the empowerment and drive to really want to do things differently and make a real impact on the customer experience. So when he announced that he was leaving as it was the ‘right time’ the impact of this on the company was profound and has led me to wonder just how much influence one man can have on one organisation? Staff have openly cried as they feel they have invested in his vision and inspiration and are genuinely worried about what might might happen with him leaving.
 
I have heard genuine concern from our customers about the future and the destabilising effect the news has had all round has really surprised me. This company is made up of many many truly awesome and inspirational people who deliver excellence every day. So why might these people wonder if this will still be possible without him around?
 
Try as I may as an HR person to instil some confidence I feel I am making little impact. This may be due to the fact that I an only five months into my role and so I haven’t established the same level of trust and confidence he has? Maybe it’s because I am HR and my predecessors have done little to raise the profile of my profession. Whatever it is – I wish I could find a way to make a difference that would quiet the unrest a little so we can get back to focussing on the customer experience.
 
I, like many others, have studied management theory and read about the impact of truly inspirational leaders, and signed up to the concept of true leaders creating followership, but sadly I haven’t seenit as many times in my working life as I would have assumed that I would.
So what makes it different here? Is it the nature of the work? Is it that he has worn his heart on his sleeve many times and truly invested a little of himself in the visions and values? Is it that this company’s values are so ingrained in the staff that ‘losing’ one of our own is a truly upsetting experience?
 
I think it may be a combination of many things. I do know that It has become obvious that although one man cannot deliver for a whole company, he can inspire others to be better and give of their best. I am now going to try and work out what makes him different in the time I have left working with him… in the hopes some small part of that inadvertent genius can rub off on me… If you work with, or have worked with someone like this and know the secret then do please share!
 

Jeanette Crisp, Associate Director of HR