Scotland's Economy

Say ‘yes’ to leadership for growth

April 26, 2012 by 1 Comment | Category Business

Crawford Gillies, Chairman Scottish Enterprise

Crawford Gillies, Chairman Scottish Enterprise

This morning I spoke to around a hundred Scottish companies on the topic of leadership for growth at the B2B Scotland 2012 event.

I try to highlight this topic as often as possible as I firmly believe that leadership has not received the prominence it should have.

To improve our productivity, to grow our businesses and to strengthen our economic recovery, we need our leaders to raise their ambitions, inspire their employees and raise the bar across all aspects of their business.

We have a number of fast growing Scottish companies that are already achieving their growth ambitions and outperforming their market competitors. And I wholeheartedly believe that effective leadership is at the heart of these high performing companies.

These include companies such as Fraserburgh-based craft brewer, BrewDog, which achieved turnover growth of 87% between 2009 and 2010, while the UK breweries and beer market only grew by 0.7% in the same period.

In the life sciences sector, Dunfermline-based Optos increased its turnover by 36.8% last year, while the UK market for medical equipment is expected to have contracted by 1% in the same period.

And similarly, Falkirk-based bus company Alexander Dennis Ltd has sustained its market leading position in the bus manufacturing sector despite operating in a recession. It has grown its UK market share to 50%, while new bus registrations in the UK fell by almost 14%.
The challenge we face is to create a culture where this kind of strong effective leadership becomes the norm. Where strong leaders can drive company performance above and beyond market performance. Where investment in leadership and growth is imperative to company growth.

I’d like to call this the culture of ‘yes’, where more of our leaders employ a “can do” rather than a “can’t do” philosophy.

In doing so, we can help companies to say “yes, there are opportunities and yes, we are going to invest in them.”

I recognise that investment on this scale, in the current climate, can be daunting. There is still uncertainty in the economy and what the future will bring. But I want to encourage more companies be bold and invest in their growth now.

And if we are asking companies to look for opportunities, to take more risks, to focus on their customer more; then we recognise that we need to do the same.

Last month, we published our most ambitious business plan to date, with a particular focus on helping more companies to innovate and develop new international opportunities. Over the next year we will be looking at new and creative ways to help companies achieve their growth ambitions, which will deliver a positive impact for companies on their bottom line, and also benefit the wider Scottish economy.

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  • Brian C Pope says:

    Good to read an article talking up the Scottish economy for a change. There are many business successes out there as you highlight but there are equally as many articles which I refer to as ‘Recessionary Slumber’ articles in my blog – which are too keen to talk down the economy.

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