Q&A with Dwight Lawrence
1. What’s your favourite way to answer the question ‘what do you do?’
With adults..."To help leaders be more purposeful and to enable their organisations to perform and thrive.”
With my 12-year-old: "To help people be their personal bests.”
2. What is your approach to finding a work-life balance?
I no longer believe in ‘balance’ - life is too complicated. I’m now focused on having more times than not when I’m energised. I feel grateful that my work is meaningful. I work hard and I’m passionate about what I do. I have a large variety of family, charitable and community interests that I’m committed to and I enjoy. I’m getting better at finding different ways to re-charge and being more present particularly when with my immediate family.
3. Describe in three words what makes a good leader.
Vision / Purposefulness / Agility
4. If you could remote-work from any country in the world, where would it be?
I don’t have a country in mind - the ideal would have a combination of sun, sea, rolling hills and an amazing internet connection... so probably between South Wales and Jamaica then!
5. Which culture, philosophy, or way of life - that is different to yours - do you most admire?
The Ethiopian culture has always fascinated me. Ethiopians are very proud of being an original home of much modern-day farming practice, being the only African country that has never been colonised, having more than 85 languages and cultures. Even with much overt poverty there is a cultural richness and pride that I admire and respect - even though it is so far from my world.
6. Who was your favourite teacher, role model or mentor when growing-up?
I’ve had some brilliant family role-models and mentors over the years. One of the earliest at work was my first line-manager at Marks and Spencer. He was a great communicator, had a high work ethic and standards, he led by example and inspired people to want to give their very best even when it was tough. We were in touch for over 30 years.
7. What, or who, was your biggest inspiration when choosing your career route?
Firstly, my parents inspired me to be curious about people, to read widely, to believe in the possible and that individuals could achieve brilliant things if they applied themselves. Secondly, I am fortunate to have taken an opportunity to move from developing Category Marketing strategies at Unilever to developing people. When I think about people I’ve worked with over the last 30 years - the brilliant, the bad and the disgraceful – I’m grateful that every week in my career route, I have an opportunity to make a positive difference to working lives.
8. Which area of your consulting work do you find the most interesting, and why?
For me it is the package of working 1:1 with influential leaders, designing learning programme architectures and working with intact senior leadership teams. In each situation, I enjoy witnessing the personal shift and organisational impact...
9. What are the top 3 personal skills that leaders need to possess, or develop, to lead their organisation into the future?
Strategic thinking - the ability to notice changes in the environment, anticipate opportunities, take calculated risks and focus on long term outcomes
Systems thinking- the ability to solve complex problems by thinking in a less linear way; understanding and predicting the interrelationships between different factors
Adaptability - Being able to transfer skills and create new strategies when facing novel problems, changing circumstances and new influences. Who would have imagined even 3 years ago that the United Nations would be looking for the approval of a 16 year old Swedish girl?
10. If you could go back in time and give your 16-year-old self-advice, what would it be?
Two key things...
“Be yourself- everyone else is already taken up!” and linked……
“For those people that you need to care about-who you are is much more important than your skin colour and your appearance”.
11. If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed three items, what would they be and why?
My immediate family would have to be an essential item - why? Love, encouragement, laughs...
My bible - For me as a practising Christian, it’s my ultimate source of inspiration, faith and purpose.
A super smartphone - a way to connect with the wider world - therefore shortening the period of being stranded and in the short term being able to listen to my favourite tunes and keep up with worldwide news.
12. What’s the number one thing you want to accomplish during your time on Earth?
To be remembered as someone that left their family, community and workplaces in a more positive place.