Not yet another fluff leadership story. What a real leader looks like?

Being far from the idea to narrow down all qualities of a leader in this post, I am a firm believer that real leaders excel in leading by example. A recent story reminded me of that simple truth.

Rowan GormleyRowan Gormley, somebody who I was lucky to meet while studying at Cambridge, has just given up his £7 million share bonus. Not because of weak financial performance or other mishap. On the contrary, Rowan passes on his bonus to his employees if they meet their targets. Thus, incentivising them long-term with his company performance.

“I felt that the shares being allocated to me would mean a lot more to other people (..). And therefore would be a motivation, and therefore would increase the value of my own shares. It’s not an act of philanthropy. It’s an act of good commercial sense.”.

Simple but powerful example of win-win for a CEO and his team aligned with the company goal of turning around its fortunes. It also further strengthens the acceptance of Rowan on top of Majestic wine who is already highly regarded about his leadership qualities from his people.

This should not come as a surprise as he has undisputed in depth knowledge of building businesses and in the wine industry in particular. Rowan has had several high profile positions at Virgin working closely with Richard Branson. He ran Virgin Direct (now Virgin Money) and after leaving set up Orgasmic Wines. The firm became Virgin Wines in 2000 when Richard Branson bought into the business. Rowan left Virgin Wines in 2008 and set up Naked Wines. Last year Naked wines was acquired by Majestic Wine and Gormley was appointed CEO of the enlarged group.

The challenges as CEO are quite a thing – increasing revenue by 25% till 2019 while the British market is pretty much stagnating and facing established competition. And if that is not enough the weaker pound (thank you, Brexit) – which makes imports more expensive – could mean higher prices have to be passed on to customers in the future.

In any case, Godspeed, Rowan!

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