Welcome to my regular series, titled "My Lightbulb Moment", which highlights a "blinding flash of insight" that business, cultural and sports leaders have experienced and how this changed their lives.

Ann Andrews, managing director of TheCorporateToolbox.com, was born and raised in Yorkshire and started her training and development career in the Women's Royal Navy.

Working for the Royal Marines - now known as the SAS - gave her valuable insight into the importance of unified teamwork and focus. She entered the private sector, taking a team-focused approach to leadership.

Lightbulb Moment - A better way


Andrews' special moment came the day she started reading the business book Maverick, by Ricardo Semler. "I suddenly saw there was a better way to treat our workers.

"Setting up self-managed teams in the manufacturing sector was my life-changing opportunity to do what I've always felt we should be doing in our work spaces. The key is to ask questions and let people tell you what is preventing them from doing a great job.

"As well as this, to be strong leaders we must not be afraid to genuinely listen to what our teams have to say to us in response."

Success came quickly to Andrews' teams. "By doing this in the manufacturing sector, we reduced the accident rate massively, we improved attendance significantly and we created career paths for people who had never considered themselves anything other than factory workers."

Ann gave people a voice which lifted their self-esteem and raised their self-belief. "This in turn very quickly lifted productivity which positively affected the bottom line."

Keys to success

• Ask: "What is preventing you from doing a great job," then listen courageously to the answer.

• Don't be afraid to let them ask questions.


• Don't be afraid to let your people speak up.

In these times where organisations are struggling with career development, and where talent-management is the "in" word, retaining great people will get harder if you don't listen to them.

People don't leave organisations, they leave managers who make them feel like they can't add value and are not heard.

If you have had a blinding moment of insight (a light bulb moment), please email me as I would love to hear about it.

Be a part of Tom O'Neil's free webinar, 10 Secrets to Successful Personal Branding, giving you key tools to move to the next stage in your career. Register at achievementexpert.com/webinar to take part at 8pm on June 29 through webinar. You can also sign up to Tom's newsletter on his website or contact him at tom@tomoneil.com