SHE 2018 – Lessons Learned from Keynote Speakers – Nicky Moffat

Leader in Business - Nicky Moffat OBE SHE 2018

At SHE 2018 Nicky Moffat spoke passionately about what makes a good leader in business and Safety Media were fortunate to be supporting this talk.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend the seminar personally, much to my disappointment, but here is a round up based on the article on SHP Online which Nicky herself shared across her Social Media so I am taking it as being accurate!

Nicky Moffat: What a good leader in business looks like

The overall message from the seminar was one of being inclusive and recognising that all team members are vital to achieving an overall goal.  As the former highest ranking female officer in  British Army, Nicky has had to command teams over over 4,500 people across the world.  Developing a strategy for successful management of this responsibility was key as micro-management on that scale is not an option.

What constitutes a leader in business?

Upon asking the audience how many of them considered themselves a leader, approximately half the crowd put up their hand…upon rephrasing the question to “How many of you are in a leadership role; how many have a leadership responsibility in terms of line management, even if for just one person; how many are leading a project, or leading a team; and how many of you want to display attitudes and behaviours that will help people in your organisation do well?”  Then there was nearly a full-house.

Turns out most people are leaders in some way or another and importantly:

“All leaders lead by example, whether they intend to or not.”

Which I would imagine gave a lot of people pause for thought…especially those who may not consider themselves a traditional “leader”.

Direct – Trust – Empower

As mentioned earlier Nicky put in place a leadership strategy for managing 4,500 people across the globe and this strategy was one that we can all use to become a good leader in business…Direct – Trust – Empower.

To Direct is to inform, give the team their objective. More importantly though than simply giving an instruction is to ensure they are aware WHY they are being asked to do it. Knowing the overall company, team or project goal really helps everyone in the team feel included and understand their role in the achievement of the goals.  From people in an admin office to those on the front line, everyone works to one goal and it is critical to understand what that goal is.

Trust must go both ways with the leader trusting the team and team trusting in the direction being given by the leader.  This 360 approach engenders a sense of ownership across all of the team and will lead to enhanced performance levels to achieve the goals.

Empowerment is especially important when managing large teams or projects or managing a decentralised team.  The individuals or key personnel need to feel like they have the authority to make decisions without permission should the need arise.  They need to be empowered to “get the job done” without explaining every step of the process to get there.

Throughout the seminar Nicky used references to examples of how this would be put into practice in a military environment, “Taking hills” etc but I don’t think anyone from the commercial world would have to think too hard to identify at least one example of when this strategy could have helped them achieve success as a leader.

Tackling diversity

The final theme in Nicky’s presentation was embracing diversity and including everybody within a team.  By using the strengths and different approaches a diverse workforce can bring will create, not only an inclusive culture, but a potentially new approach to problem solving.

Nicky took the audience through a number of slides showing categories used to distinguish people: age, religion, sexual orientation etc.  She then re-framed the conversation by pointing our strengths that these differences could reveal.  This,  I would imagine, would have been a really interesting part of the seminar and very thought provoking.  The example cited on the SHP Online article that Nicky used was this:

“Somebody going through gender realignment, she said, should not be looked at as someone who is different, but as someone who has shown incredible bravery and resolution.”

Looking at diversity in a different way helps promote the qualities that those who live different lives or who have different backgrounds can offer.  Gaining the trust, respect and feeling of being included by all of these groups is a task set to challenge any leader.  Another example given was:

“When most of my team celebrates Christmas, how difficult is it for me to find out when Diwali or Eid is and how it is celebrated? And how much better would it be for someone in my team to feel like it has been considered?”

Lessons learned about being a leader in business

Pleasingly a lot of the messages from Nicky’s talk are already instilled in the culture at Safety Media but there are always lessons to be learned.

  • You don’t have to lead a team to be a leader
  • Leaders lead by example, whether they know it or not
  • Give explanations for why tasks are assigned instead of orders to be followed
  • Trust must be developed in a 360 degree way
  • Being empowered to get the job done is critical to success
  • Embrace diversity across your team or organisation by embracing the positives instead of focusing on the differences.


Safety Media offer a number of e-Learning courses tackling the topics in Nicky’s talks such as Leadership e-Learning, Equality and Diversity Training and Communication e-Learning.  For more information on any of these topics please contact us on 01745 535000 or 

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