High quality leadership is key to firms’ survival

PEOPLE often ask me what Scotland’s next big industry will be, and what will make us a successful country in the future.
Strong individuals in the boardroom are key to a well run business. Picture: Bill HenryStrong individuals in the boardroom are key to a well run business. Picture: Bill Henry
Strong individuals in the boardroom are key to a well run business. Picture: Bill Henry

The answer to the first I’m not sure about, though it will sit with the medium size businesses, not the massive ones, and it will be found in the many and not the few. The world is a highly competitive place, but the innovative thrive and grow, and we know we are capable of producing some quite special ideas. They won’t necessarily relate to our traditional industries and may be in spheres we know little or nothing about right now.

What is certain, however, is that Scotland’s success will be determined by the quality of leadership within our businesses, civic institutions and third sector organisations.

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We require inspirational leadership and direction from the top if we are to flourish in an increasingly demanding and competitive world. The quality of this leadership undoubtedly will be the deciding factor in the battle between economies – the dynamic, opportunistic and innovative will win, as will their businesses.

The directors of these organisations must deliver the vision, strategic direction and purpose to drive everyone forward to prosperity.

This might seem quite obvious for the operational director team, but equally important for effective direction are the non-executive directors in so many of these organisations.

A few high-profile examples will illustrate the vital role these individuals play – from football clubs to banks and on to the more praiseworthy cases of Wood Group PSN or Stagecoach. A good boardroom team really does bring success, and this applies in the many public bodies and charities in Scotland as well.

We’re lucky in Scotland to have a raft of high-calibre individuals that are capable of being objective, creative and inspirational, and some are offering their experience to develop and stretch organisations, often beyond the limit of their ambitions.

Collectively, those that have taken on the challenge of being a non-exec director are to be applauded, as is the lasting impact they will have on the future of Scotland’s economy.

• David Watt is executive director of the Institute of Directors in Scotland. The Bank of Scotland Non-Executive Director Award will be announced at the Director of the Year Awards in March