For the past 4 years I have had the pleasure of working with John Robinson and Paul Jackman as their Leadership Coach at recruitment company Thorn Baker. John and Paul head up Thorn Baker together, after the retirement of Chris Thorne (who was a long standing senior director in the company for over 20 years) in 2011.

John and Paul have steered Thorn Baker though the turbulence of the recession and have worked hard to develop a culture where they develop and look after the best talent, to enable Thorn Baker to serve their clients and candidates at the very highest level. This has been recognised recently when Thorn Baker were awarded 81st position in the “Top 100 Sunday Times Companies To Work For” awards.

The driving Vision for Thorn Baker is to be the recruitment company of choice for all their clients, candidates and their people.

In this 3rd blog in the “Inspiring Leaders” series, John provided an insight into the Thorn Baker culture and how they lead the company.

What are your driving values as a leader?
I have always been driven by the desire to be the best I can be and to inspire others around me to strive to the same goal. I am also a huge believer in enjoying every minute of every day and it is hardly surprising that these 2 key drivers for me are core values for the business. Our industry is tremendously fast paced and changing constantly with customers becoming more and more demanding. Enjoying the job and supporting the team around us in doing the same, ensures we remain positive and deliver great service in a very competitive environment.

How do you think your style differs from other leaders you observe?
Our culture has always been open and honest and this is driven from the top. Not just me, but all the senior team enjoy open, positive relationships with everyone around them. We don’t have a ‘them and us’ mentality, we muck in and ‘do’ alongside everyone and treat every team member with respect. The two most important words in management are ‘well done’ and I am never happier than when congratulating one of the team on a great piece of work.

Who are leaders who have proven inspirational to you?
If I am allowed to turn to sport for inspiration, more recently I have admired Michael Vaughan’s style of leadership. No matter what the situation Michael was and is unswervingly positive in his attitude and belief. He galvanised a then good England cricket side when he came to the helm after Nasser Hussein and took them to heights rarely experienced by the England cricket fan in recent times. He would always look to attack and would take the positive over the negative choice at every opportunity. His attitude inspired those around him to achieve their potential. His success built the foundation on which the current England team is based, which is quite a legacy.

Define your company culture and what is important in this for you?
We have worked tirelessly (with Tony’s help) as a senior team to develop our company culture over the past few years and in such a disparate organisation our challenge is to capture our culture and make sure that the customer experience is exactly the same whether you deal with our office in London or Leeds. To do this we turned to our people and in a hugely collaborative process, shaped our Vision, Mission and Values with all their input. Now every office you walk in to will have our Vision and Values clearly displayed, talked about and referred to on a daily basis. We communicate openly and honestly at all times. This process has enabled us to achieve a 3 star rating in the Best Companies to work for and as a bonus a place in the sought after Sunday Times list of the Top 100 small companies to work for in the UK, an achievement of which we are very, very proud.

In our industry more than most others ‘it’s all about the people’ and with our people positively and collectively engaged and aligned to contribute to the success of the company we are able to attract and retain top talent and deliver the best to our clients.

What are your ambitions for the future?
To continue to grow our business and ensure long term career development, security, prosperity and success for all our people.

What advice would you give to aspiring business leaders?
Have courage and trust your instincts, as they are rarely wrong.