I recently had the pleasure of seeing Ian Beasant speak at an Institute Of Directors event and then met with Ian for an interview about his role as leader of Giant Bicycles in Leicestershire.

Ian won the IOD Director of the year award for the East Midlands region for 2014 and this is to be the first in a series of interviews with inspiring leaders across the East Midlands and UK.

Ian has been at Giant Bicycles for 24 years and manages a team of 24 people. He is very modest about his award, in fact it was not even up in his office. What motivates Ian is working with his team as a collective, sharing ideas and with a respect that good ideas can come from everyone. This is a very refreshing approach and part of a strong engaging approach, which I advocate in my book PI Leadership.

Ian actually told me that a lot of the best ideas don’t necessarily come from him, but from the broader team. This is actively encouraged and is one of the key reasons why only 1 person leaves the business each year.

Ian was worked on developing a culture which respects and looks after his people. It is a very open culture too, with regards to performance and rewards. This is respected by everyone and he said that people truly work together and pull their own weight to contribute to the success of the business.

The business is Taiwan owned and the turnover in the UK has grown from £3 Million to circa £50 Million over the years.

Ian is a great believer that successful business is down to applying common sense. This is exemplified in the core values that Ian spoke about at the IOD event and we covered again when we met:

  1. Ensure there is a definite demand for the products and services you offer. How well do you know your market and have you matched what you offer to a clear need? Ian believes in keeping a focus on creating demand not profit. He believes that if you focus on developing your products and services to meet the potential of the market the latter will come. For Ian too many companies are driven by the bottom line and end up losing touch with the market’s needs.
  2. Develop good products and services with a focus on quality. No matter how good you are you need a great product or service.
  3. Build a low cost operation. Ian ensures that costs are managed carefully and that the operation is as lean as it can be.
  4. Have a total customer orientation. I especially liked Ian’s notion of “treating people as you would like to be treated” and it is a good thing for us all to keep in mind as we deliver out products and services.
  5. Giant Bicycles like to put family first too. The company has a culture of finishing at 5.00 pm. There are exceptions to this when truly urgent matters arise, but this is a core part of the culture at Giant Bicycles. Everybody looks to close down their day, plan the next, but then leave to spend quality time in their personal lives. This should be applauded and seen as an inspiration to us all.

I really enjoyed the hour I spent with Ian and enjoyed a tour around the building, with a feeling of a very positive culture that is precious to Ian and the people who work there. I hope you take some inspiration from this blog on the time spent with Ian.

Next month the leader interview will focus on Andy Leask, a client of mine for 3 years and the winner of IOD Director of the year (medium size company) for 2015 in the East Midlands.