The 3rd Leadership Lesson I learned – Surround yourself with Talent









The 3rd Leadership Lesson I learned – Surround yourself with Talent

Standing in front of a room full of colleagues, I am about to open the Dosh (Financial Advocacy) Ltd*  conference as we celebrate our 15th Anniversary as a company.

*  is a ‘not for profit’ company and part of a charity supporting adults with a learning disability, with their money.

I look around the room and sense the anticipation, enthusiasm, and energy.  Once more I am surrounded by talent.

My colleagues have been recruited from the world of banking, local authorities, and social care and two team members are musicians!  They all share a commitment and passion for supporting people with a learning disability to have more control and independence over their money.

This was the third leadership lesson I learned in my first career in the Army – if you want to achieve great things, make a difference in other peoples lives and leave a lasting legacy you can’t do it on your own.

Always surround yourself with people who are even more talented and competent than you.” ~ Stephen Covey “If you have great people around you, they will take you higher than your dream will. Leaders are never self-made”.

How this has worked for Dosh in Five Ways: 

  1. Colleagues who have specific areas of expertise freely share their knowledge with each other which has a knock-on benefit for our customers.
  2. We recruit people for their values, knowledge, life experience and their leadership skills – all of our colleagues are leaders.
  3. Succession planning and Business Continuity has never been an issue for Dosh, we have always had colleagues ready and willing to step into the ‘breach’ whenever there is a need.
  4. You know when you have a successful team – it is when their ideas outnumber yours. Dosh has continued to thrive because of these ideas.
  5. We have sought out other teams within our wider organisation who can support us to deliver for the people we support: IT, Marketing, Contracts, Management Accountants, HR, Fundraising etc.  Super talented colleagues who we call ‘Friends of Dosh’ and we ensure that we express our gratitude for their help and support on a regular basis.


How surrounding yourself with talent has made me a better leader:

  1. As a leader you don’t have to have all the answers – my talented colleagues do!
  2. I have learned from those around me – how they work things out, how they see things from a different perspective and what they know that I don’t
  3. I have been able to progress my teams’ objectives so much quicker for having surrounded myself with talent.
  4. One of the leadership highlights in both my careers has been able to play a small part in developing people and progressing their careers. Their success will be my legacy.
  5. It has stopped me from being complacent. When you are surrounded by talent you need to perform to your highest standard every day.

10 Tips on how to surround yourself with talent and retain them:   

  1. Recruit and select people who have different backgrounds – go for diversity.
  2. Never stop talent-spotting even when you don’t have vacancies. I am constantly looking for people I may want to work with, join our team and be part of my network.
  3. You need to be secure in yourself as a leader and not feel threatened by people who are going to challenge what you do and what you think.
  4. Strive to build a reputation that you welcome and support talent.
  5. Find responsibilities that will challenge your talent, so they develop and feel accomplished
  6. Constantly be looking for opportunities for your colleagues, not just within your team, so they develop their portfolio of experiences.
  7. Don’t hold your colleagues back, if they move on then try to retain them within your network. This is something we strive for in Dosh, regularly inviting our former colleagues to our team events.  We never forget what they did for our company, they are our ‘Legends’ and are referred to as such.
  8. Look for people who are values-driven, have a positive attitude, lots of energy, and have a track record of delivering results.
  9. Always thank colleagues. As a manager at a Registered Care Home many years ago, at the end of every shift I personally thanked each colleague.  It was always a privilege to work with them.
  10. It is also important to work for good leaders. I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked for some amazing people who continue to be part of my network and influence my leadership and management.  In the early 90s I had the good fortune to work with Army officers, five of whom I am still in regular contact with and often call on their help and support.

And finally………

You know when you are surrounded by talented people – at the end of the day you are happily exhausted.   The venue where we are holding our company conference is huge with a labyrinth of corridors.  I don’t need to ask for directions to the restaurant, I just need to follow the growing sound of laughter and chatter of team members.

When you surround yourself with talent and recruit characters bristling with humour, ideas, and conversation, it’s a good place to be.

Angela Atkin a super talented colleague, the first team member and longest serving employee for Dosh Ltd

Cutting the Dosh 15th Anniversary Cake.