Chris Howe, Coach & Keynote Speaker

As our economy continues to emerge from the after effects of 2008 a couple of trends are becoming clear to me: 

·         Whilst many people in the UK like to question the reality of the positive news, more people outside the UK (for example China where I spend much of my time) believe that the UK economy is looking really pretty good. 

When did we transform into such a nervous, fearful and self-critical nation?  When once, as a tiny nation, we were happy to set out and “conquer the world” – OK I accept we made a few mistakes along the way – why do we now seem to cower in the corner, wondering what can go wrong next? 

Why do we lack the faith to believe in ourselves these days? 

My guides and teachers, the Maasai, have always taught me that a Leader’s first responsibility is to inspire their people with a sense of hope.  Which is why, despite the incredible hardship of their lives, they laugh and sing and look forward to every new day. 

But let us not blame the politicians, we elected them (sort of) after all, they are just trying to win an election – they might worry about “leadership” again after that; or possibly not. 

What are you personally doing to make things better?  Or has it just become too easy to complain and cower? 

·         As companies begin to emerge from the corporate blast shelters I am regularly hearing the same message from their employees. 

“We are getting much more work but they refuse to recruit quality people “just in case”” 

Just in case what?   

The customers actually want a good service that lives up to the promises that you have made to them!  

Just in case it all goes pear shaped again and you have to lay people off? 

Where is the optimism, passion and determination to make things work?  Yes there will be challenges but nothing was ever won by waiting until failure was impossible! 

Sadly these corporate “leaders” may be the forecasters of their own doom since the good and talented people will not tolerate this.  

Unlike two years ago, there are new opportunities out there and the good and talented people are willing and able to leave. 

So will “just in case” lead to a reduction in the average quality of your people and service? 

Where is the corporate courage to invest again or is keeping the money in the bank such an incredibly attractive option?  If so, can someone give me the details of the bank that is paying such great rates of return? 

But others really do think we are OK! 

Has anyone else noticed that last year UK car manufacturing hit a 7-year high of 1.5 million vehicles? 

Following 2 years in which more than £7 billion had been invested in new facilities and thousands of new jobs have been created. 

JLR, that company that the UK government refused to support in 2008 after Ford abandoned them, made 450,000 of those vehicles on their own. 

When Tata Motors bought them in 2008 they had global revenues of about £5bn and made a loss of £84million, last year their sales were £20bn (YUP quadrupled in 6 years) and profits were £3.4bn.   

Of course they could have popped their cash into the Bradford and Bingley (wonderful institution that it is) until there was absolute certainty that things would be OK again or maybe one of those nice HSBC accounts in Switzerland. 

Companies owned outside the UK made all 1.5 million vehicles in the UK. 

Why is it that “they” (yes Nigel those dreadful foreigners) believe in us BUT we are scared of our own shadow? 

I love the UK, I am proud that when I travel abroad I carry a UK passport and fly on my favourite airline (even if the whole world might not agree). 

I passionately believe that we have what it takes to compete (even my German friends tell me that they admire the quality of our high end engineering). 

Despite our colonial exploits we are still generally loved around the world above our chums from across the Atlantic.  Strangely enough people actually want to deal with us! 

So can we stop hiding in the shadows, listening to people who like to keep doing us down (sorry Ed’s M and B but you do) and realise that we have a future, we just need to want it a bit more.