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A Matter of Profound Regret: Tesco's Leadership Crisis

Leadership expert Colin Gautrey considers the chaotic situation at Tesco in the wake of Chairman Richard Broadbent's recent departure.

"The issues that have come to light over recent weeks are a matter of profound regret."

What exactly does Sir Richard Broadbent (outgoing Chairman of Tesco PLC) mean with his resignation quote? What is he regretful of?

When huge corporations start to teeter on the brink of the abyss, all manner of oblique quotes begin to emerge. The reality of what has been going on there may be far from clear, but one thing for sure, Sir Richard is just one of many senior people at Tesco who are now contemplating their future. The heart of the problem for Tesco PLC and the growing queue of casualties is the loss of credibility, personal, professional, and corporate.

Right now, Tesco PLC has a big hole in its profits, and perhaps a bigger hole in its credibility. Markets are punishing places for stocks whose credibility has been shot. The implications for Tesco are potentially catastrophic.

The Importance of Credibility

In my recent book, Influential Leadership: A Leader's Guide to Getting Things Done, I explore credibility as one of the seven sources of power and influence. Credibility captures the expectation in the mind of the influenced that the owner can be relied upon. When present, it says to someone that they can believe what they hear and that the owner of the credibility can be trusted to deliver. Trust is all about predictability.

Credibility is just as applicable to you too. You may not be a multi-billion dollar corporation, but you do have value, others need to rely upon you, and in order to achieve your goals, people need to trust you. As you rise up the career ladder, you will be building your credibility to do your job and deliver the results. This is an important and growing source of power and influence for you, and it needs to be looked after.

Here are a few questions for you to ponder:

  • What is the basis for your credibility?
  • How can you enhance your credibility?
  • What do you do which makes you trustable?
  • What do you do which could erode the trust you have already gained?
  • How can you protect your credibility?

These may take some time to think through properly, and you can find out more about these in my book. In my executive coaching work I always find that clients who focus on these areas always enhance their performance.

The Role of Power

Finally, I'd like to draw your attention to another source of power covered in my book: character. This is the influence derived from personal values, beliefs and personality. People of robust character, who have a strong set of values, and high integrity, are much more influential as a result. Strength of character enhances credibility. To Sir Richard's credit, he does appear to be displaying this as he exits Tesco under a cloud. That he is also quoted as saying "there's a very important principle of accountability which relates to people who are in my position," Is very much to his credit.

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