Advance Performance | Leadership Lessons from Pradip Patel
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Leadership Lessons from Pradip Patel

Leadership Lessons from Pradip Patel

“Over the forty years I’ve been in different leadership roles, I have been able to learn and grow and keep finessing my leadership skills so that I could really engage, inspire and motivate my people.”


Pradip Patel recently retired from Boots after 40 years and several leadership roles including Director of Healthcare Strategy, Director of HR Stores and Professional Development, and Chairman and Managing Director of Boots Opticians. One of the highlights of his career was turning the profits of Boots Opticians from £350k per annum to £16 million within three years.

Here are Pradip’s top 5 tips as to how to be a strong and authentic leader:

1. Continuing to learn and develop your leadership Skills

“Leadership is an unending journey. My personal belief is the day you stop learning leadership is a sad day.”

Pradip recommends using a learning log to record actions that have worked well; also note when something hasn’t worked so well so that you can evaluate the situation and improve your skills the next time you encounter a similar situation. Proactively look for examples of good leadership from other leaders which can be developed in your own leadership.

Review your learning log each week and evaluate your own behaviour. Give yourself a pat on the back for the good stuff and learn from the not so good stuff so that you can be more effective next time.

By learning and reinforcing the good points, this habit becomes a part of your natural behaviour as a leader – this is authentic leadership.

2. Integrity is the essential characteristic of an authentic leader

“As a leader you need to be authentic in who you are, what you are, and the way that you deal with your people day in and day out. Integrity actually allows you to gain trust and respect from your people which is long lasting.”

Consistency in integrity is vital. If you are not consistent, people will lose their trust and respect and will not follow you. It is easy to show integrity in the good times, but it is even more important to maintain that same integrity during the tough times.

3. Invest in the training and development of your people

“If you believe people are your biggest assets and they genuinely are, and integrity has to be consistent with that, that means you have to invest in continual training and development of your people.”

Pradip believes that a good leader would cut costs somewhere else, and not in training and development. By investing in your people you are investing in the future of your business.

4. Believe in, maintain and communicate the core values of your organisation

The way to bring values alive and communicate them is to live them so the values become a part of the DNA in the way leaders talk to their people, as well as the customers, partners and suppliers. The way you bring them to life is to demonstrate the way you work. Leaders must lead by example so that the values become integral to everything in their behaviour and communication.

“Don’t just communicate the values but actually make this a part of your day job.”

5. Encouraging creative thinking

“The power of unleashing people’s natural creativity and innovation is absolutely enormous. Actually if there are limiting beliefs, they’re in your own head.”

It is important to acknowledge when someone has self limiting beliefs as there must be a reason why these exist.  He suggests two successful activities to overcome self limiting beliefs and encourage the individual’s creative thinking:

Role reversals – e.g. gives a store assistant the role as store manager for a month and see them unleash their creativity to solve problems.

Use the coaching/growth model. Put the limiting belief on a flip chart and then ask the individual to work through the problem by brainstorming ideas.

Whatever level or leadership role that you’re in, it is important to build a relationship with your people that is founded on 3 core principles:

Empathy – Understand your people using your eyes, your ears and above all your heart.

Authenticity – We go back to the core value of integrity. Be authentic every day, every week, every month, every year.

Positive regard – People come to work to do a good job. Everyone has something to offer and it is important to value what the person brings and respect their differences

To enjoy more of Pradip’s leadership lessons listen to his podcasts on the Advance Performance website.