Basic Info

Chris Roebuck
Contributor Status:
Initial Contribution Date:

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Coaching / Training, Entrepreneurship
Personal Career Headline:
Organizational/ Personal Success Advisor & Hon Visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership
Business Description (One-Liner):

Corporate leader : Developing leaders and leadership in major global organisations and SMEs to enable both personal and
organisational success. Eg His work in UBS as Global Head of Talent & Leadership is part of a Harvard Case Study.

Governmental leader : Working in Government and public sectors on major change and leadership projects from UK National Health
Service and local Government to London Underground PFI.

Thought leader : regularly on the list of HR Most Influential Thinkers & Hon Visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership
researching what delivers success.

Military leader : Serving as a military officer leading and inspiring people in challenging environments via a “serve to lead” ethos.

Executive coach and mentor : helping senior executives be more successful across as range of different sectors.

This has enabled Chris develop an innovative, entrepreneurial and highly effective new approach for leaders and organisations to achieve success : I CARE Leadership. Chris shows how simple, practical day today actions can be taken to quickly deliver real improvements at all levels; individual, team and organisation. It enables people to immediately make a real difference implementing simple actions based
on their own experience. For example one organisation who implemented I CARE Leadership increased the number of staff happy to recommend it as “a great place to work” to friends or family in 2 years from 40% to 82%, and increased revenue by 40%. His first book on leadership published in 2000 took this approach and was translated into 11 languages as a result. When Global Head of Leadership at UBS, 70,000 staff & 100 countries, his team helped the bank transform organisational performance to increase profitability by 235%, market capitalisation by 50% and win awards. This is now a Harvard Case Study.

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Career Snapshot:

Chris Roebuck is a British economist and Hon Visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership at Cass Business School in London. He has held senior roles at UBS, HSBC, KPMG and London Underground and has advised major global organisations at Board Level on leadership and improving performance. As Global Head of Leadership at UBS, his work helped the bank to win Best Company for Leaders in Europe 2005 and several Excellence Awards, next to boosting performance and profits.

The UBS Strategy Project is now a Harvard Business School case study. One of the most influential Human Resource thinkers, he is an often quoted expert in major UK and international press, including the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Bloomberg and the BBC. More than eight billion people worldwide have seen his expertise on television.

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How did you get into the industry?:

I studied Economics at university so have always used an analytical bottom line based approach to business. Subsequently as an Army officer the challenges of leading soldiers meant I had to really understand how to get the best from people. The combination enabled me to approach issues from both a people and financial perspective. That seemed natural to me but I it became clear that I was in a small minority in the business world, and that most corporate leaders, even senior ones, had less real leadership capability than one of my 20 year old corporals in the Army. I realized that this meant that many teams and organizations were significantly underperforming performing significantly and that this had a negative effect on the organizations performance, profitability and the quality of working life for employees. I decided I wanted to help leaders and organizations be more successful though better leadership and, through this, help as many employees as possible have better bosses and through that a better working life during which they could achieve their true potential.

Emerging industry trends?:

Clearly as technology develops, globalization advances, demographic changes and the impact of humanity on the plant increases the complexity and pressure of our working lives ramps up. From the organizational perspective these mega trends impact not only the long term strategies required but also the day to day perspectives of employees as they see increased uncertainty, pressure to deliver more in less time at work and potentially negative economic challenges as wage increases don’t always match the cost of living. In this unstable environment employees need capable leaders to inspire them, to guide them, to support them and above all for them to trust in as the world changes around them.

Industry opportunities and challenges?:

So organizations have a real people challenges now, no matter where they are or what they do. To be competitive they have to be customer focused, agile, efficient and provide a good return to their investors where they have them. That requires people at all levels to be prepared to give their best and the organization to focus that best onto what delivers success. Very few organizations are anywhere close to achieving that. Studies would show that less than 20% of people in most organizations are giving their best. The impact of that on implementation success is clear, both in feedback from leaders groups I speak to and in studies. Probably only under 30% of all initiatives launched in organizations ever get close to successful completion.

If everyone was giving their best performance successful implementation could be well over 50% and profits up by 10 – 20% or even more. That’s the challenge and the opportunity.

That’s the opportunity. With the right approach this can be achieved quickly, simply and easily. Getting the best from people isn’t complicated or a great secret, I have found that everyone who has been in work for a few years knows that secret, but often they don’t realize it. Any one who has had a boss that inspired them to give their best has an example to follow, of simple day to day actions, that made them give their best. What I have found with leaders from across the globe, in every organization, irrespective of what they do, is that there are about 10 – 12 things that inspiring bosses do to get the best from people that are totally consistent. These actions have the effect of encouraging anyone, anywhere doing anything to give their best, and not just in work. They cost nothing and any leader can do more of them from tomorrow morning.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

That’s my inspiration and my vision – that if we can get every CEO, every board member, every leader to get the best from people it will significantly boost the performance of all our organizations, increase economic growth and create great places to work where everyone can reach their full potential with all the benefits to society these would bring.

But business has to be aware of this opportunity. Too often it is assumed that as long as you are keeping customers and investors reasonably happy you are doing a good job. The reality is that you could easily get 10% more but that message must be more widely spread and the clear business case for getting the best and delivering success. I call it “I CARE leadership” because when its present everyone cares about delivering success, rather than just doing their job.

What's next for the Business in the near future?:

For me it is to go out and give organizations and leaders a reality check, to show that “ I CARE leadership” is the route to unleashing the full potential of people, teams and organizations, that it is simple, quick and powerful using existing knowledge and experience to fine tune what people are probably doing already. It isn’t about doing new things, or learning new knowledge, its just to do what you do but letter.

I currently achieve this by speaking to groups of leaders around the world to show them how they can be so much better so easily – speak to leaders at conferences, in organisations, by running Masterclasses to help develop both personal and organisational action plans, by writing articles and books, doing podcasts and interviews, anything which spreads knowledge that people can be used to become more effective and successful. I help individuals CEOs and leaders via executive coaching and mentoring and also help organisations to help themselves by showing them how to implement world class mentoring internally.

But the number of people who would benefit from what I say is significantly greater than I have reached so far. My challenge now is to spread my “I CARE” strategy for success more widely and more effectively. So Im developing online learning solutions; from global webinars to more in depth development programs with certification.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business? Greatest Accomplishment?:

The lessons from my military, business and government roles all confirm the same simple principles – to be successful you need to get the best from people and focus that onto what delivers success – summarized by “I CARE”. It’s that which business must focus on as the foundation to deliver anything from strategy to customer focus, from risk management to innovation, from talent development to transformation. None of these will be really successful if this is not happening.

So my suggestion for any leader or organization to be more successful is this :

Make sure you have the key professional and task management skills you need

Get the best from people by showing you care, empowering them and building trust o they care about success.

Focus that onto what delivers success by aligning operational activity to strategic objectives.

Those are the 3 steps to success which will power the delivery of your specific vision, purpose, strategy and critical objectives.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?):

My biggest challenge was moving from a military environment to a business one. This is a transition which almost all who take it find shocking. In the military you are trained to be the ultimate task management expert where you work with a “we not me” ethos. The team and the achievement of the objective comes above self interest. Sadly in many cases the business world is the opposite, a “me not we” world where self interest is more important than colleagues and sometimes even in achieving the end result. The first time someone takes advantage of you to promote their own self interest over and above the rest of the team in the business world is both confusing and emotionally stressful. The values you have held for many years in the military are pulled apart in front of you and you have to come to terms with how you manage that.

One way is to retreat the other, which is what I did, is to collect evidence that shows in the business world the more an organization can get to the “we not me” culture the more effective, high performance and profitable it can be. Then help your colleagues become that via some simple discussion and team building.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?:

When I work with leaders, even if it’s only to make a keynote presentation, the experience I try to deliver is one of inspiration with a simple action plan to boost self motivation to be more successful. Its to show every person they have the capability to be better, its easy, it helps them get back control of their day to day agenda and to be able to have the confidence to shape their own future destiny. It’s about showing people how to unleash their own potential and that of others.

What happens then is the critical test, moving from ideas into action. But when the road map to achieving that is so clear and simple as with I CARE the outcome is almost certain. From the feedback I receive the vast majority go back and make a difference. For me that’s the key test; that the experience I have provided has resulted in real successful action.

Clearly with longer and more detailed interaction – from Masterclasses to advisory work – the chances of success and the level of success increase but even a 1 hour keynote presentation is proven to make a real difference to many people.

How do you motivate others?:

With a few seconds thought we all know the answer to this , based on our own experience. What did the person you worked best with do that inspired you ? Then you do that for others. There is the old adage “treat other people as you would like to be treated yourself”, take that down a level to “do the things for others you found motivated you to give your best when done with you ”. They will almost certainly work with others. Add to that being good at your job which gives you job specific credibility and the combination will enable you to motivate others. But these are also often the same simple actions that will make you a great boss as well.

Career advice to those in your industry?:

1 – Decide on your Vision – where do you want to be in 2, 5, 10 years time ?

2 – Decide on the milestones – what key steps are required to get you there ?

3 – Make sure you have the critical skills you need – task management and job specific

4 – Set your values that underpin your actions, eg

     a – Always go for a win/ win when working with others

     b – Live by a “we not me” ethos and be an example of its success.

     c – Always treat others with respect, fairness, transparency and integrity.

Constantly learn – Look for examples of what the best in your organization, your sector and globally and always seek insight from those around you before action and feedback after, and offer the same constructively for them.

Understand the big picture and align what you do to it so you can make sure you deliver maximum impact for your organization.

Regularly check that the way you are doing things – legacy systems and processes – are still fit for purpose in the current world. Always ask “Is there a better way this could be done”

If you are a leader just telling people to do the job will get the job done, but only just, inspiring people to give their best gets much more done than just the job.

Find a good mentor and mentor others if you think you are able.

Always have a clear simple, well communicated and well timed plan of action, minimize complexity, engage others both rationally and emotionally and implement with determination, but accept that changing situations demand flexible plans so constantly monitor the potential need for change.

Try to inspire others to be better so they do the same for you.

When things go well for you ensure you thank those who helped you achieve it and share success. A simple “thank you” combined with humility is more powerful than you imagine.

Above all build trust with everyone you can so they believe in you. Then they will want to help you succeed as they succeed so everyone reaches their full potential.

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