John Cotterell, CEO Endava: The leadership demands to being open and honest with your people and keeping promises
The role of leadership in the current environment becomes paramount to inspire and motivate teams and companies to move forward. How are the CEOs and managers of large companies addressing aspects related to leadership and busines resilience within their industries and with the aim of reaching the business objectives for 2020 and 2021?
We recently talked to John Cotterell, Chief Executive of Endava to find out the answers to actual aspects of business life and leadership today.
A massive transformation makes for a very dynamic market world to operate and the focus is making sure that the organization keeps being agile
2020 – the year of the pandemic – has caused huge amounts of change across the world and the organizations and that has created a massive challenge for CEOs and businesses on how to handle the amount of change going on. It has been unprecedented I think in my lifetime to see so much change happening in such a short space of time.
There is a lot of conversation about the K-shaped economy where some parts of the industry in the world (relatively few) are recovering strongly and are seeing a massive ramp up in activity, whilst other areas are still being hit very hard by the effects of the pandemic and have completely crushed to very small percentages of what they used to be operating at. Due to the strong shift towards digitalization something that would have happened in seven years now is accelerated to seven months to reach the same level.
So, a massive transformation makes for a very dynamic market world to operate in and as a CEO you are focused on how you make sure that your organization is agile and responding quickly to what is happening in the market so that you are well positioned for the opportunities. That will continue all the way through 2021 even if this virus is under control with the help of a vaccine, the business trends, the recession rate and the economic dynamics it has triggered will be with us all through 2021.
One of the opportunities that we see at the moment is to attract great people into the organization and strengthen our company in this time of change
In a highly volatile and dynamic market, as we are experiencing at the moment, the big challenge as a CEO is to point the organization at those areas where it has innate strengths, so you can capitalize on the growth opportunities that are happening as clients shift their spend, whether that’s consumers or corporate, into these new high growth areas.
Endava is very well positioned for that, as our services sit in the next-gen technologies and the digital trends that are transforming the ways in which people and companies operate.
One of the opportunities that we see at the moment is to attract great people into the organization and strengthen our company in this time of change.
Whilst other companies are shrinking because their markets are not good, Endava is in a very strong position on a high-growth market. We are recruiting, we want to draw great talent into the organization, it’s a wonderful opportunity for us and for those who join us to become part of a healthy, expanding organization.
As we moved almost overnight to work from home, our people found themselves separated from the traditional setup of office desks and sharing a common space in an Agile type fashion to interacting almost exclusively online with clients and colleagues on Teams and Zoom.
This prompted us to think harder about wellbeing and how people’s mental and physical health is tackled in this different work from home context when you don’t get out and about in the same way. We put a programme in place called Endava Wellbeing, organized on four pillars, Mind, Body, Home and Community. The programme offers a collection of tools and resources that enable our employees to grow and stay connected and that we will keep up with even after we get back to normal.
Another mechanism of coping with the current context was keeping our employees informed and up to date, cascading the key company messages in a timely manner through the leaders of the organization and creating a virtual venue where the CEO and the executive team answer peoples pressing questions in a live forum.
This talks to the need of engaging more with your teams and understanding their personal struggles but as well their professional needs, in terms of career development and professional ambitions and how the organization can help them achieve this in a pandemic working style.
The leadership skill was invested in facing the brutal facts, being open and honest with everyone in the organization and then following through the promises that we had made
I think the most important things to keep in mind are:
Number one, face the brutal facts, face the adversity in the outside world and the impact it has on the organization.
And secondly, be open and honest with your teams around the transformations taking place and how it affects the business and ultimately them as individuals.
For instance, in Endava as we got through March and April we had a few customers who wanted to stop the project work they were doing with us, we had other customers that wanted to expand what they were doing with us, that K-shaped recovery I was talking about earlier.
But the individuals who were on the teams that were shut down, were obviously quite worried about what’s happening to the organization, so for them Endava felt like slowing down dramatically. So, it was very important to be able to tell people that we understood what was happening and we were able to make the assurance that we weren’t going to make anyone redundant.
No one lost their job as the result of the pandemic changes we were going through and I think that enabled most people in the organization to feel confident that Endava was in a good place and we didn’t let people go. To sum it up, the leadership skill was invested in facing the brutal facts, being open and honest with everyone in the organization and then following through the promises that we had made.
We are focused on bringing our purpose to life, paving the way for graduates and interns and giving them the initiation and training
We have the same approach to the mindset needed today as we had before the pandemic came along and it was captured in what we call our core purpose – the reason why Endava exists. We exist to create an environment and a culture that breeds success by number one, caring for our customers as individuals and number two, enabling our people to be the best that they can be, so it’s all about people, the people we work for, on the customer side, and it’s about the people that work with us, in Endava, and how we can make a positive impact on them and their careers, help them be successful in what they are doing and that applies just as strongly now, in 2020, maybe even more strongly given all the change and the pressure going on.
We are focused on bringing our purpose to life, paving the way for graduates and interns and giving them the initiation and training, we are still recruiting people in this lockdown type of situation, initiate them well into new jobs within Endava, help them feel part of the team and understand how we execute on projects in a successful way. One of the interesting things has been that actually our productivity in terms of delivery to our clients has gone up a bit during this period so that has been encouraging for both our people but also for our clients, that even in lockdown, they are still getting a really good job done for them.
The leadership demands to being open and honest with your people and keeping promises.
We are looking to recruit substantially over the next months and years and so we are able to articulate to people and clients that we are in a strong growth mode and that creates opportunities for people to be promoted and have new challenges in their careers.
Endava is a great place to come and work and build your career and given that we are growing, I would encourage many good people to come and join us over this period.