‘Be ready to take some risks,’ says winner of Director of the Year 2019 Award for Excellence

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Director of the Year Awards Linda Pollard

Every day in the approach to Christmas, we’ll speak to winners from the recent finals of IoD Director of the Year Awards. Today it’s Linda Pollard CBE, chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, who won the Dr Neville Bain Memorial Award for Excellence in Director and Board Practice

As chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust since 2013, Pollard has helped to deliver the biggest surplus in its 20-year history. She is now spearheading a £500 million-plus investment in the construction of a children’s hospital.

What’s the secret to building an effective team? “Seek out a breadth of skills and experiences; always listen and respect people’s opinions; and encourage everyone to share their challenges.”

Which person in the business world do you most admire? “The late Baroness Betty Lockwood, who in 1975 became the first chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission. She was my mentor for many years – a woman before her time.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? “My grandfather told me: ‘Keep looking forward. Don’t look back.’”

Whom do you turn to for guidance today? “It depends on the particular area you’re looking at. You need a range of information sources, so networks are vital.”

How would you describe your leadership style? “Supportive – my door is always open and I will always listen. Leadership is about taking people with you on the journey, inspiring them and giving them belief in their abilities.”

What advice would you offer leaders with less experience than you about navigating turbulent times? “Hold your nerve and be ready to take some risks, but always look after your people.”

How do you ensure good corporate governance in a fast-growing enterprise? “Find a good company secretary to watch your back. Listen to them and take their advice.”

What is the key to great leadership? “Surrounding yourself with people who have a wide range of skills and are cleverer than you.”

Entries are now open for the 2020 IoD Director of the Year Awards – click here for more info and to nominate

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Director magazine

Director magazine

Director is the magazine for business leaders. Free to IoD members and available to purchase through subscription, each edition is full of insightful interviews with entrepreneurs and company directors.

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