MY MAD STORY
Claire Walton … Makes A Difference
I am founder of Leaders Are Making A Difference. The business was born from my passion to Inspire and enable people to become Leaders and in doing so for them to make a significant difference for their organisations and themselves. I have an extensive background in Senior Management and Executive Director roles across diverse industries and in major brands. I have learned from some amazing and some awful leaders over the past 30 years. I apply this experience, my knowledge and skills gained through a variety of training and coaching qualifications and an MBA in service of my clients.
My vision is a world in which Leaders 'Make A Difference', where this MADness is not the exception but the norm.
My ‘MAD’ story began in my 20’s when I worked for ASDA, this was in the 1990’s when ASDA made a turn around and became one of the UK’s best-loved supermarket retailers. In my time at ASDA I was ignited by the passion of the CEO – Archie Norman and the Retail Director – Allan Leighton. These guys taught me how to be a Leader who is ‘Making A Difference’ – ‘MAD’.
Archie and Allan were driven by a passion and a ‘Purpose’ to be a supermarket retailer that created a customer focussed shopping experience that everyone could afford. They had a clear ‘Vision’ for what this would be as they steered the organisation through a renewal of the organisation to become one of Britain’s most successful turnarounds, a great place to shop and a great place to work.
I loved working at ASDA and as a consequence I committed enormous amounts of energy, creativity and passion. I was encouraged to share my ideas, to challenge, to take risks and ‘Make A Difference’. During my time there I was part of a team leading fundamental changes in organisational culture, the most significant element of the turnaround. I also led my own turnaround success in two stores in the North East of England, taking both stores from bottom quartile to top quartile performance in 12 months and most important to me creating a working and shopping experience that people enjoyed. I had ‘Purpose’. I wanted to create a success story my store team could be proud of, a place where we were proud to recommend people to shop and work. We created a ‘Vision’ for success and we embraced the organisation’s ‘Values’ as our own. I was ‘MAD’ and I loved being ‘MAD’. ‘MAD’ created huge personal satisfaction, recognition, promotion and financial reward.
After ASDA, I moved into Financial Services and once again, for several years, I was encouraged to be ‘MAD’. Once again ‘Purpose, Vision, Values, Culture’ were my toolkit. Business performance improved as the culture changed and once again I was recognised and rewarded.
This theme did not continue throughout my career as I was sometimes obstructed by the people above and around me. People who did not want to be ‘MAD’ or for me to be ‘MAD’ either. They did not want to rock the boat, upset the status quo and potentially derail their safe and secure world. As a result they managed to achieve some success for themselves and their organisations but always at a cost – a cost to the customer experience, a cost to the employee experience and perhaps a cost to their deeper feeling of satisfaction, pride and achievement.
I have always had the courage of my conviction and this has not always been encouraged or rewarded. Perhaps I did not always deliver as skilfully as I should have or perhaps I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. ‘MAD’ Leadership is not easy and comes with many challenges. I have however continued to look for opportunities to ‘Make A Difference’ and have worked hard to learn, develop and grow as a ‘MAD Leader’.
Eventually I decided I could achieve more working in support of people who want to ‘Make A Difference’ rather than working within an organisation where ‘MAD’ is not encouraged or worse, obstructed. This is when ‘Leaders Are MAD’ began. Now I work with leaders in many different organisation contexts including. Critical for success is the desire my clients have to ‘Make A Difference’ – for themselves, their organisation and the communities in which they operate.
The Values that drive me are:
Purpose – To act with ‘why’ in mind
Passion – To act with heart and soul, energy and commitment
Care – To act with consideration for the impact on the experience of others
Fair – To act with integrity, treat everyone equally and without trying to achieve an unjust advantage
Challenging – To act with curiosity, not taking things on face value, questioning self and others for improved outcomes
Resourceful – To act with pragmatism and flexibility, overcoming difficulties through quick and clever problem solving