How did you get into leadership development?
I left the Royal Marines in 2012, having thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Corps. I was lucky enough to lead Royal Marines on operations in Afghanistan, Libya and off the coast of Somalia. I got some really good advice when I left which was ‘find another role in a completely different organisation’. So, I joined Urenco UK on a two-year contract where I was asked to lead an Operational Excellence implementation. I worked with technically capable people who’d been promoted because they were excellent at the job but now had a team to lead and felt unprepared for the challenges that came with their new role. I realised that I could help them using my experience; eight years later, I am still doing that but for a much wider group of clients.
What have been some of your professional highlights?
I was lucky enough to be in the right part of the Indian Ocean at the right time when our ship received a distress signal from a 55,000t container ship called the MV Montecristo. Pirates had managed to get onboard and were trying to get to the ship’s crew who had barricaded themselves in the engine room. My team and I were tasked with recapturing the vessel which we did without a shot being fired. Later, I acted as a witness for the prosecution in the pirates’ trial in the Seychelles and Rome. It’s hard to beat that as a professional experience.
What does the leader of tomorrow look like?
The leader of tomorrow will be able to handle complexity. They will understand the limitations of ‘creating plans and implementing them’ and be far more focussed on ‘experimenting, learning and adapting’. I see this as the single biggest leadership challenge for most people. They will still need to be able to build strong relationships based on trust, act in accordance with the highest ethical standards and clearly articulate what they want their teams to work towards making a reality – but those aren’t new skills!
What is the importance of leadership development and talent advisory to an organisation?
I believe that it is essential. Leadership and culture are reflections of one another. Toxic leadership, toxic culture and vice versa. Often, clients will engage with us when they have started to notice that there is a problem. People aren’t working together as well as they could be. Individual aims are more important than the aims of the team or the wider organisation. Good people have started to leave. I believe that you either proactively build the culture you want or you have to be prepared to attempt a culture change programme further down the road.
How can organisations create the right environment to develop leaders?
Leadership is not solely an HR responsibility. It is up to an organisation’s leadership to ‘lead by example’ and demonstrate the right behaviours that make people want to work for them. If an organisation’s leaders take accountability for growing leaders within their teams by challenging and supporting them, the organisation will set themselves up for success in the future.
What do you think are the best skills that you bring to your role?
I like to think I bring a good level of empathy to the role when working with clients. Leadership is hard – and very few people are set up for success by being provided with interesting and thought-provoking development. I consider myself lucky to have had some
Roderic Yapp is an executive coach and leadership development specialist. A former Royal Marines Officer, he specialises in developing leaders that operate in highly demanding and competitive sectors. His experience includes the delivery of leadership development programmes across a multitude of sectors, including Professional Services, Asset Management, Construction, Pharma and NATO.