Fund Managment and IT Leadership – same thing?

What’s running the most successful world index fund worth£16bn got to do with IT leadership?

After too many years to remember in IT support, change and leadership, I’ve decided to do a series of blogs on a variety of topics this year. The first is prompted by receiving the annual fund report from Terry Smith who runs Fundsmith, the Number 1 global equity fund that has grown 269% since launch. That’s 13% better than the number 2 fund and the sector average was only 89%.

***Health Warning. This is not a financial product recommendation, shares go up and down and past performance as we all know does not predict future performance …same probably applies to leadership!!???*****

He runs the fund by 3 simple principles.

1. Buy good companies

2. Don’t overpay

3. Do Nothing.

This is combined with a forthright set of views and the ability to cut through the crap and create simplicity and clarity in a complex field. Oh, and by the way, he puts his own money in the fund!!!

This got me thinking there are so many parallels with good leadership. My three equivalents would be

1 Buy and develop good people and partners.

As a leader you are only as good as your team. So never compromise, get good people and also grow your own talent. To do that means understanding and playing to everyone’s strengths, finding talent and developing it. As leaders, it’s what we should be spending 30% of our time on – our teams. Same goes for suppliers and partners, creating in-depth relationships is hard work and takes time.

2 Don’t overpay…..

I had to think about that one for a bit. But I think the parallel is don’t overpay for average people, remember to reward your own team. It’s so easy to overpay for outside hired and consultants and neglect your home grown talent.

Listen to your own team, create your internal capability and then supplement it with recognised industry specislists. Spend the money on paying your teams well, but remember people stay because of a leader, vision, exiting work, opportunities to develop, and not just money.

3 Do nothing….well maybe not nothing, but don’t interfere.

Your selected good people, created a clear vision and direction with them (note, with, not for them). Your job is to protect, guide and enable, not to interfere. Enable them to be their best, by a touch on the tiller here and there, a lot of trust, calling out the positives and watch them fly. This needs lots of of communication, sharing context and engagement.

What Terry also does well is to communicate well and clearly in a complex field (parallels with technology again here). I suggest anyone interested reads Terrys annual report, or watch some of his videos.

Be true to your self, outspoken and stand up for what you believe, and above all keep it simple. That’s tons harder than it sounds, can you take your most complex challenges and simplify them right down to a 30 second set of headlines.

So topics for the rest of the year? I have a list, but would love to take on some challenges! Let me know what you think I should cover.

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