Having headed up businesses at every level, from being a sole trader to running the likes of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Mark Bilton knows there is one key trait common to virtually all successful companies.
That trait, he says, speaking exclusively on the My Business Podcast, is collaboration.
“The ones that think they have all the answers, sometimes they get into a certain stage [and] they do quite well. The best ones are really collaborative,” says Mark.
“[They are] the ones that really grow the business through that entrepreneurial barrier into something that’s a little bit more, has a bit more scale to it, is a bit more successful.
“They’ve worked out how to be collaborative. They’re able to work in the business and get things done, but also step aside and think about where they’re going, but include people in that process. They tend to be empowering, tend to be transparent. They know where they want to go and they can articulate that quite clearly, but they’re inherently collaborative of unlocking the latent potential of their people.”
Mark says he has tried to instil this ethos of collaboration, transparency and bringing your employees with you on the path to growth in every company he has been a part of, and particularly those he has led.
“I’ve always had a very collaborative, transparent approach, which I found to be very effective. It’s worked well in a harsh change-management environment, where you’ve got a lot of people moving in a hurry, but I think that's everyone’s world now,” he says.
“The business world and the competition is moving so quickly that organisations need to be inherently flexible and agile.”
Mark admits it can be difficult to reinvent yourself if your style more closely resembles that of an army general, but he believes it is still possible and worth the effort.
“It’s probably something you grow into. If your natural instinct is to go and shout at people, you’re not going to get particularly far in business in general. It’s something you can learn,” he says.
“It’s like anything else – it’s a discipline. If you become self-aware about it, you can start putting those things in your life.”