How to Become a Highly Effective Leader

“As a team member, your job is to have the answers. As a leader, it is your responsibility to have all the questions.

Tom Lawrence


In the engineering world, where Tom Lawrence’s career began, there is an engineering training department. This is where people get trained before they do the job and is the process Tom followed as an apprentice mechanical engineer. He learnt to become a mechanical engineer before he became a mechanical engineer.


Leadership works backwards.


First, they become the leader and then they get the development – and that’s exactly what Tom is determined to change. He wants to help people who are not currently in a leadership position but are aspiring to become highly effective leaders, as well as help senior leaders enhance their leadership skills.


Tom began his mechanical engineering apprenticeship in an automotive company in Liverpool. (Those of you who watched this, The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) Podcast, via YouTube would’ve noticed the Liverpool dress code. Hopefully the audience can appreciate the mutual admiration Brendan and Tom both share for the team who won the Champions League trophy five times – anywho…, that is a story for another time!) Tom then moved into the train operator industry and earned his degree in mechanical engineering, his master’s degree in maintenance engineering and started his first leadership role as a project manager. He is now a chartered engineer living in London, where he also mentors new and upcoming engineers working towards their chartership.


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The biggest impact in Tom’s career journey was getting to a point where he realised that he couldn’t go on anymore and had to take a few months off.  He worked with supervisors and managers, people in leadership positions, who were very ‘old school’ type leaders. In other words, very dictator-type where their leadership style is to tell-you-what-to-do and not really listen. Where the expectation is to just do the bare minimum to get the job done, then go home.


This wakeup call was the ‘switch on’ moment where Tom realised that he wanted to be one of those people who makes a difference in people’s lives and help them to enjoy going to work.


It was during his time out that Tom wrote Manager to Leader: How to be a Highly Effective Leader (Amazon). It’s basically his own story of how he started in a leadership position and teaches the principles of, when you do get that leadership position, are you a manager or are you a leader?


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A manager is someone who manages processes, policies, procedures and business growth. All the little things which have nothing to do with people. Leaders lead people and a highly effective leader leads by example and builds trust with their people. Without trust, you cannot influence or lead people.


In today’s conversation Brendan and Tom explore how to become a highly effective leader. Learn how to have ‘real influence’ so your people follow you because they want to, not because they have to. This is opposed to having ‘false influence’ where people turn up because they are doing what they are told. They identify the difference between a ‘secure leader’ who empowers their team versus an ‘insecure leader’, a micromanager, who doesn’t trust their team. Click here to learn the importance behind listening to understand and listening to reply and how building trust gains buy-in.


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