Tesco chief on hunt for ‘thousands of leaders’

Successful companies have thousands of leaders, according to Terry Leahy, the chief executive of supermarket chain Tesco.

Speaking at the Leaders in London conference, Leahy said there was no way Tesco executives could micro-manage 325,000 employees across the globe.

“We don’t want one leader, we want thousands,” he said. “One in 10 staff are always being targeted for training and promotion.”

Leahy said employees are looking for four things at work, which Tesco strives to achieve: an interesting job, respect from others, a chance to progress, and a good manager. “If staff recognise we are doing our best for them, then they will do their best for us,” he said.

While admitting that Tesco could not afford a rigid “Anglo-Saxon” view across all its businesses, Leahy said it had to have a clear and consistent framework.

Tesco last month reported that its half-year profits had surged 28 per cent to a record 805m. Leahy revealed that the success could partly be attributed to professor Robert Kaplan’s ‘Balanced Scorecard’ approach to management through a system known as the ‘Steering Wheel’.

Tesco’s version of the approach, devised in a Harvard Business School review article in 1992, divides the business into four sections.

Managers are asked to monitor their customers, operations, staff and finances using a ‘traffic light’ system where green indicates that targets are being met, and red indicates a problem.


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