Shopping around for true leaders

This month, Asda people development manager Bruce Boughton, 34, reveals his
ambition for delivering business excellence through people

How long have you been in this job?
This particular role for five months, but a member of the Asda training
team for six years.

How long have you been with your organisation?
Just over 10 years.

What does your role involve?
A variety of projects, generally linked to evolving Asda’s culture, way of
working and management style.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Receiving phone calls from people who feel that some training or
development I have helped create has made a real difference to them.

What is your current major project or strategic push?
The launch of the Walton Institute, which will enable people across all
areas of the business to develop the skills to be true leaders rather than
managers, and move the way we deliver business excellence through people to a
new level.

What did you want to do for a living when you were at school?
Be a banker.

What was your first job?
McDonald’s as a student.

What was the best career decision you ever made?
Move from retail to training.

And what was the worst?
Applying to only two companies on graduating from university!

Which of your qualifications do you most value and why?
My degree, not because I have found it useful since, but because I spent
three years learning about something I was interested in rather than something
which had an immediate practical use.

What was the worst course you ever went on?
Time management – why are these courses inevitably a waste of time?

How many minutes is it since someone senior in your organisation said:
‘People are our greatest assets’?
We use the saying ‘Our people make the difference’ everywhere we can.
Everything the Asda training team does is about putting our people first.

Evaluation – holy grail or impossible dream?
I prefer proving business benefit to evaluation, and proving business
benefit is essential.

How do you think your job will have changed in five years time?
Greater use of computer databases linking appraisal, performance
management, and training programmes.

What do you think the core skills for your job will be in the future?
The need to be an effective communicator will never change, regardless of
the technology used as a medium, including the ability to listen.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in training and
Read, read, read. Listen, listen, listen.

How do you network?
Very poorly. I have worked with the DNTO training managers from across the
retail sector, and the key network I am currently developing is with training
managers from the different countries in the Wal-Mart family.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Secretary of State for Education & Skills – to sort out vocational
training, in particular NVQs, once and for all!

Do you take work home with you?
Sometimes I work from home rather than go into the office. And I do
sometimes get the urge to check my e-mail on the laptop late at night.

What is your motto?
Choose your attitude every day.

Describe your management style in three words or less
Flexibility, feedback, learn.

How would you like to be remembered by your colleagues?
He leaves behind a legacy which changed Asda for the better.

Up close and personal

Preferred terminology?

I believe terminology should be kept simple: ‘training’ to mean
delivering the skills to do the job you have just got, and ‘development’ to
mean delivering the skills to prepare you to take on further responsibilities.

Favourite buzzwords?

Leadership, business benefit, vision, empathy

Most loathed buzzwords?

Self-actualisation or any acronym

Are you good at self development?

I attempt to regularly take on projects which will expand my
knowledge, experience or network.

What self development have you done in the past six months?

The projects in my role are all new to me so they have been the
focus of my self-development.

Where do you want to be in five years time?

Spending more time with my family.

What was the most useful course you ever went on or learning
experience you ever had?

Having a colleague act as mentor.

Which is the best management book you have ever read?

Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson

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