Positive Luxury Co-CEO Amy Nelson-Bennett is a passionate advocate for sustainability and social issues. She joined the Positive Luxury team earlier this year after leadership roles at Clive Christian and Molton Brown and since then has been focused on building our team and the Butterfly Mark community.
We caught up with her to find out more about her leadership style and get her advice for aspiring sustainable leaders:
What makes a great – or successful – leader?
The ability to unite people around an exciting vision, build a clear strategy to deliver it, and be laser-focussed on the results tied to that. The discipline to keep a company focussed on its priorities and customers, but also the agility to react to changing market conditions or unforeseen opportunities. And – underpinning all that – the self-confidence to delegate, listen and learn, and the self-awareness to know that you need to continue to grow as a leader.
What are your personal strengths as a leader?
Direction – it’s important to paint an engaging picture of where a business is heading that is clear, exciting and reasonably challenging for the team. What is our shared goal? What’s the direction of travel? And what is each individual’s contribution to that? And then, when the route to the goal alters over time, I am disciplined about keeping the business focussed on achieving that goal. An ever-shifting strategy introduces an ongoing, counter-productive element of uncertainty that results in a loss of faith in leadership.
Communication – I believe every individual performs better and shows greater resilience if they know the business context in which they are operating. I have always prioritised the time to communicate frequently and quite openly, with my direct reports and the team as a whole. And it has paid back. Individuals feel more involved, trusted and respected. They have the knowledge and therefore confidence to take educated risks. They voice educated opinions, dream up solutions to problems and ideas for innovation.
Consistency – Uncertainty is not good for business or humans. The team is always looking toward leadership for direction and security, a leader’s actions are always under close scrutiny. If my behaviour is volatile or there is a conflict between my words and my actions, I compromise respect. I cannot be a successful without that. I aim to demonstrate the behaviours I demand of others but admit and apologise on the occasions I fall short. I try to be as supportive as I am demanding. When times are tough, as they occasionally are in any company, I want to be someone people trust to weather the storm and lead them through it.
What is the toughest lesson you learned?
Both the toughest and the most valuable learning: no individual is irreplaceable. So park your ego, take a break and watch your business not unravel and be proud of that. Building talent and capability so a business doesn’t just survive but thrives after you move on is the ultimate leadership KPI.
And the most rewarding?
A tie between seeing the results of a company’s collective effort in tangible business results and giving talented young people a chance and watching them grow in confidence and capability as a result. Both fill me with enormous pride and pleasure.
What is one piece of advice our would give to an aspiring leader?
It’s not about you, the leader. It’s all about the people you lead. No company is truly successful off the back of one individual’s efforts, at least not for long. For high achievers this can be tough. We’re used to being the recipients of recognition and praise. But I believe being a good leader is about shifting the conversation away from yourself, focussing on collective effort and letting others have the limelight.
Why should people be positive about the future?
Whilst I don’t think we can (or should!) rely on them to fix our mess, Gen Z are an extraordinary generation. Their awareness and activism on environmental and social issues fills me with so much hope and should inspire other leaders to be better and do better. The kids are alright!
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