Spending a glorious afternoon on a beautiful classic 1960’s Routemaster bus in London, gave me some time to reflect on the joys of being a CEO The Ghost Bus Tours and The Classic Tour and the amazing City of London, in which I work and live. We forget at our peril, the wonder of seeing the amazing historical buildings that represent both growth and wealth of London. The merchant’s that built the City of London into the epi-centre of the British Empire, could not know just how iconic their buildings would become over time. Just passing Wren’s classically inspired masterpiece of St.Pauls, reminds me of the concept of creating a lasting legacy.
“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.”
- David Brower
It was certainly something one doesn’t do very often when you live in this great city – sitting back and seeing a different perspective on the attractions like the Tower of London that we too often take for granted. As a CEO, it is important to take a different view on the business – a sense of calmness in a busy and confusing world. The feeling of working on your business (rather than within it) can be very profound.
A sightseeing tour reveals a sense of wonder about our Capital. Taking the ticket to ride, and viewing the business to reveal the innovation and potential. Of course, the main attractions in London are well known. The amazing architecture and history of Buckingham Palace, but also the modern building like The Shard. The extraordinary Tower of London and the London Eye are, of course, iconic landmarks. The recent history of Royal Weddings at Westminster Abbey and the dominance of St Paul’s Cathedral in the skyline still impress. The prime feat of Victorian engineering, the Tower Bridge allows the bus to pass over the beautiful River Thames. The museum and galleries like Tate Modern, the British Museum and the V&A, are some of the most visited and loved museums in London.
On the Classic tour, I thought about the deeper concept of being successful in business. If you want to run a successful business, there is no question in my mind, which you have to know how to play to your strengths. I see many business owners try to micromanage everything – making poor decisions as a result. You become convinced only you can be the driver, the conductor, the tour guide and the customer. You become convinced that you can get things done better and more efficiently than anyone else. You are probably right. The truth is that the time you are spending doing jobs that other people could be doing is the critical period that you are not adequately running your business. You become so involved in the process, the detail the last £1 pound of expenditure. You could delegate these things, yet you get convinced that you can't trust them and you become an effective leader.
The truth is that great leaders need to create more leaders. That means delegating effectively and letting go - inspiring your team. You are responsible for setting targets and goals and planning for growth and spotting the gaps. You are the person in your business who will be inspired to grow your company is you– and that is the secret of those wealthy Merchants of London. The time you spend working on mundane, process driven, being a technician - those tasks that can be delegated, is the time that you are not planning, making significant decisions, building resilience and making the best version of your business. It is about falling back in love with your business int he same way as hopping on a tour bus and seeing London differently.
The secret is not to be the technician, to work on your business, not in your business. The big picture should be your key focus – see the panoramic view from the upper deck of the bus. The ability to remove barriers and have a clear view of the commercial environment. You will begin to predict the future (maybe by inventing it), find smarter ways to work and make improvement and innovation your mantra. Learn the fundamental principles of delegation so you can continue to have the vision to have a great business and create a legacy.
The bus tour allowed me some space to see the world as it is and take stock of how a business runs. To make better decisions, ask better questions. Your employees and workers will appreciate the trust and responsibility you have in them if you inspire them to only do excellent work. If you can empower your staff, they feel involved in the process and make you proud of their work. Thank them as I thanked the guide at the end of The Classic Tour, and take time to give them positive feedback. You may learn that the view from the top deck will help you see the job of leading your business as the most important element.
“Transforming the complex to the simple is pure genius.”
- Doris P. Johnson
This the biggest challenge for most entrepreneurs, to grow a business beyond a certain point, a point where they must transition from just doing to being a leader. It means stepping back from day-to-day operations and slipping into the role of overseer. From the technician doing the oil change, to Admiral of the Fleet - it is a conscious decision to become a excellent leader. Your ticket to success is about taking a view from the top deck.
Tim T Dingle BSc (Hons) PGCE MBA Mediator
Chief Operations Officer
Chief Fun(eral) Director
Elizabeth House, 39 York Road South Entrance, 5th floor, SE1 7NQ
Tim Dingle BSc (Hons), PGCE, MBA, has been involved in education, management, comedy, research, the Law and training for the last 30 years. Tim is a former Headmaster of a top school and gained an MBA with a distinction (his dissertation was on body language and Interview skills).
He has a unique insight into teaching, leadership, comedy and management and has now written 26 books on a variety of topics including motivation, leadership, education, training, communication, interview success and business.
His background in management also includes being the Chairman on England Schools Rugby and an active member of the RFU and MCC. His academic pedigree (in Biology, Teaching and Business) combined with his Mediation skills, gained him a place on the Board of the Global Negotiation Insight Institute (which used to be the Harvard Negotiation project). He has lectured all around the world with keynote speeches at many national and international events. His facilitation skills are in constant use for difficult and complex problems. His training company works across a variety of sectors and is making a massive impact, dedicated to making everyone feel empowered, successful and having fun. He writes jokes as well as running a comedy club and training school in London.