The greatest Briton: Adrian Cadbury

first_img Comments are closed. If the BBC can do it, so can Personnel Today. We want to know which Britonyou rate as the greatest people manager and leader of all time. Personnel Todayhas invited 10 leading figures in the field of management to nominateindividuals they believe are the best, and then convince you they are right. Tovote, visit the voting form where you will also find summaries of all 10nominees. The voting closes on Tuesday 4th March 2003.This week’s nominee is:Adrian CadburyBy Geoff Armstrong, director-general of the Chartered Institute of Personneland DevelopmentThere are many great leaders in all walks of life. Not all of them are atthe top of their organisations, and not all are household names or heroicfigures. Dominant personality or forceful influence is not often the measure ofan effective leader, other than, perhaps, in times of crisis. By my reckoning, a leader is someone who crafts a clear winning vision,listening carefully to the views of those being asked to follow; whoarticulates, practices and embodies consistent values; and who communicatescompellingly, engaging the willing contribution, commitment and initiative ofthe led. A leader is sensitive to changing customer and other stakeholder demands andis flexible enough to keep on raising the game without compromising values.Above all, a leader is able to project into the future and introducestrategies, practices, cultures, relationships and organisations that make thevision a reality. Most of the time, the best leaders pursue programmes of organisation-widecontinuous learning and improvement. Sustainable success is built onregeneration, not jerky revolution. Leadership is a collective act over time – not a one-man-band or a one-nightstand. Leaders boldly seek out, evaluate and adopt radical options that fit thestrategy and values of the organisation. They don’t indulge in strategicpinball, chasing untried strategies just because previous leaders have not. I believe Sir Adrian Cadbury deserves the title of Greatest Briton inManagement and Leadership on two counts. First, he led his family firm towardsbeing a global player and, second, he pioneered thinking about managementethics, governance and social responsibility, setting a practical path forothers to follow. Building on the Quaker tradition of mutual respect, the original Cadburybusiness invested heavily in employee welfare, education and housing. Employeeswere not just cogs in the wheel, but expected to contribute ideas, and theirviews were sought and valued. Cadbury’s particular contribution was to move beyond paternalism andarticulate the values underpinning a progressive approach to people. He showedthat practices could be designed to draw the best from employees, and thatthere was a compelling business case for treating people as respectedcontributors, not disposable human resources. He led the team that laid thegroundwork for the globally competitive Cadbury Schweppes that we see today – athinking, learning company with a hard-headed business performance culturerooted in respect for people and their potential. Early in his career, Cadbury spent substantial time in personnel, and itconvinced him of the importance of linking people management with businessstrategy. Writing in 1982, he said: “It does concern me that so littlenote seems to be taken in the upper reaches of management of what is knownabout how people behave and how they are likely to react, for example, todifferent approaches to participation, work organisation or paymentsystems.” He recognised, once again ahead of many, that organisations would need toadapt rapidly to changes in the marketplace, and that the way they organisedthemselves to achieve that was a source of competitive advantage. “I see the future lying with small units, flexibly managed, largely onthe basis of individuals rather than departments and based on personal contactrather than collective negotiation,” he says. His prophecy was that personnel departments would need to take the lead inframing policies for every aspect of the business and involve in theirformation “those whom you hope will be bound by it”. Moving that into today’s terms of high-performance working, psychologicalcontact and employee voice, Cadbury’s call is every bit as relevant today. More broadly, Cadbury tackled head-on the subject of business and managementethics. Notably in his award-winning Harvard Business Review article of 1987,‘Ethical Managers Make Their Own Rules’, he gave a practical template formanagers wishing to work ethically. Internationally, his influence has beenhuge, demonstrating in practical terms that businesses do not operate in amoral or social vacuum and that it is possible to compete while adhering toconsistent ethical values. He went on in the 1990s to lead the review of corporate governance thatbears his name. While he focused on ethical values, transparency andconsistency, it was perhaps inevitable that the recommendations aboutstructures, rules and procedures attracted most attention. Rightly, in my view, he emphasised that compliance is hard to enforce ifpeople are not convinced it is the right thing to do. Willing engagement, as inall aspects of people management, is far preferable to reluctant working to therules. So, Cadbury is a visionary and a people-centred business leader. He is aclear-thinking, principled man with a genuine interest in people asindividuals. Cadbury gets my vote. Cadbury’s CV1929 Adrian Cadbury born1947 Educated at King’s College, Cambridge1952 A keen rower, he competes in the Olympics 1965 Works in various roles in the family business – includinga stint in personnel – before becoming chairman of the company at age 36 1970 Appointed as a director of the Bank of England, a role hecarries out for 24 years  1989 Steps down as Cadbury chairman 1990 Writes business tome The Company Chairman 1992 Releases influential, government-backed code on corporategovernance2002 Author of Corporate Governance and Chairmanship – APersonal View Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. The greatest Briton: Adrian CadburyOn 11 Feb 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more