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Bold brand vision and strong teams needed

Richard Kottler

It was instructive to listen to (former Clarks chief executive) Peter Bolliger at the Drapers Footwear Awards earlier this month and in particular to hear about the need for a bold brand vision along with a strong, committed team to implement that goal - a strategy he used so well at Clarks.

It was instructive to listen to (former Clarks chief executive) Peter Bolliger at the Drapers Footwear Awards earlier this month and in particular to hear about the need for a bold brand vision along with a strong, committed team to implement that goal - a strategy he used so well at Clarks.

Looking at other global brands and aspiring companies, there often seems to be a mismatch between the chief executive’s ambition and the recruitment of a team to deliver it. Too often the boss will not, or cannot, “delegate and not look over your shoulder”, as Peter said. The result? A confused group of senior people often brought in from other companies with impressive track records, but who are new to the company and to their colleagues.

Few companies seem able to create teams combining the best of existing talent with the best of new. Symptomatic of this is a high turnover of senior staff and sudden shifts in corporate strategy.

To succeed, the chief executive needs to weld the team so that people are working towards a common vision and allow them to get on with it. Easier said than done. It takes a lot of courage to stop micro-managing and to step away and monitor events and results from a distance.

A number of footwear firms display all the evidence of making the successful transition from an owner/driver-led business to a successful team-managed operation. Then there are others where the boss still wants to take all the decisions - despite declaring the opposite.

“It takes a lot of courage to stop micro-managing and monitor from a distance”

The footwear industry has room for all kinds of company structures, but the ones that will claim and keep the top spots are likely to be the ones that are run by a leader with a team of committed, well-matched individuals empowered to make the big decisions.

Richard Kottler is chief executive of the British Footwear Association

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