Q&A with Tom Smith
1. What motivates you?
I want to make sure that I do my very best and that as many people as possible benefit from my experience – clients and colleagues alike. I love seeing my impact at the individual, team and organisation level both in our clients as well as internally. If I can tick these three boxes then I know I’m doing a good job.
2. How do you handle pressure?
I think I handle pressure pretty well. From my experiences as a prison psychologist I’ve learned to become a resilient person who can soak up pressure. I found myself in situations where the decisions I made often had implications for the health and safety of others. Since then I’ve learned to take time to reflect and relax. I’m currently finishing a novel and this provides me with the balance I need from my work. I work obsessively hard for my clients and at the end of the day, if I’ve done my very best, then I’m happy.
3. What will change most about the world of work in the next few years?
The way people are led. The expectations of a modern workforce is to be better led. The pressure is now on organisations to ensure they have people in leadership positions who can carry out this responsibility. More skilled leaders will lead to higher engagement levels; they will develop a more adaptable workforce and employ people who are more empowered.
4. What’s your defining career moment so far?
There are 3 for me:
- First, working with Eric Pearson whilst I was a senior psychologist at HM Prison Service. Eric knew what good leadership was without having learned about if from a text book or been on a leadership programme.
- Second, my experience in the commercial world working at a global L&D scale took me to another level where I was much more strategic working across different cultures in a complex business environment.
- Third, arriving at Lane4 where I could be myself as a business psychologist once again while helping to grow our business.
5. What book, film or tv show has really changed the way you thought about something?
I’m a book person and have too many to mention, but professionally, ‘Stress’ by Tom Cox. I had a strong relationship with Tom as I researched and consulted with him when I started my career. His book and my work with him drove me down the path I’m on today.
6. What’s your favourite sport to business lesson or story?
I was lucky enough to work with a company called Sporting Bodymind when I was at Ford of Europe. They were probably the first sports psychologists in business. They had a very unique approach to working with teams that helped transform engineers and help them think very differently about what they did. As far as they were concerned there was no difference between a footballer or an engineer. What got in the way of their performance was the clutter in their mind, the lack of clarity of what they did and the organisations tendency to make things harder than it should be.
7. What makes you proud?
I helped create the assessment part of Lane4 so I am proud to have contributed to the business growth. On a personal level I’m proud to still be in touch with people I have met over the years and have seen them excel. It excites me that I could have played a part in that.
8. What makes you angry?
Selfishness. People who don’t take into account the needs of others and are driven by individual goals, putting themselves first. One of the things I love about Lane4 is that by and large we are a pretty selfless bunch.
9. Which leader do you most admire most and why?
Eric Pearson, who I worked with at HM Prison Service. He was a leader in one of the most stressful jobs I know, everyday people who worked in the Special Unit in Hull Prison put their life on the line. Somehow, there was a waiting list to work with Eric because of the reputation he had as a powerful leader. Through Eric I learnt about followership not leadership – he did the most menial of tasks for the team and put himself in the firing line every day.
10. What are your best and worst characteristics?
Worst – I worry that I can be a bit “preachy” sometimes. I think it’s the dark side of my best characteristic – I care for my colleagues.
11. What would you like to learn and why?
I have just finished my first book but I would love to write more creatively.
12. If you could choose anybody, who would you be for a day?
The chief Lego model builder in any LEGOLAND
13. Who would you like to invite for a dinner party, living or dead?
John Singleton Copley the artist who painted the ‘Defeat of the Floating Batteries’ and the subject of my novel. I wish I knew him better so that I could do him justice.
14. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I have to go to Eric Pearson again – ‘No such thing as good or bad decision. Just make the most from each decision you make and trust yourself.’
15. What would your motto be (if you haven’t already got one)?
Try your hardest and give it your all. Don’t leave anything behind.
16. What personal value would you never compromise?