Getting To Know You: Fiona McKay, CEO, Lightbulb Leadership

Fiona McKay, CEO, Lightbulb Leadership

Fiona McKay, the CEO of Manchester based Lightbulb Leadership tells us what defines her way of doing business.

What do you currently do at ‘Lightbulb Leadership Solutions’?

Lightbulb Leadership Solutions has a clear and simple vision and that’s to create great growth leaders that can solve the biggest challenges and inspire long-term, meaningful change in their organisations.

We are a challenger brand to the big-four consultancy-firms and we work with established names across the globe, as well as emerging hyper growth businesses and their investors. We are known for actively implementing lasting transformation through the solutions that we deliver.

I founded the business and have built a team that has a reputation and a bias for action, stepping into high-stake environments and delivering transformational and impactful change, as well as clarity in decision-making and enlightened ‘non-conventional’ thinking.

We support our clients across a range of change and transformation encompassing C-suite and board advisory, strategic business consulting, executive coaching, leadership transition, talent & succession planning and leadership development.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

Our vision and purpose were inspired by a piece of feedback from a client.

We were told that what we had delivered had gone beyond results, and that the real value was derived from a ‘lightbulb moment’ we had created. This really resonated with me and was the basis for changing our company name in 2015. The business in its current form was born directly from that feedback. Since then the ‘lightbulb’ metaphor became a foundation stone for what we strive to achieve with all our clients.

For some clients it is about transforming their organisation, for others it can mean attracting new, or maximising existing investment. For others it’s about succession, culture and developing the leadership talent pipeline.  Our role as a partner is about holding to account and ensuring their leadership is as purposeful as possible to ensure not only results, but that the future world of work, works better too.

Who do you admire?

Oprah Winfrey is inspirational. She is a true leader who inspires people across both age and demographic. She is a successful woman that has broken down so many barriers to carve out an incredible career and brand. She has also been a crusader for education and shown generosity and philanthropy. She has never shied away from being outspoken about important issues and is happy to challenge the norm.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

Earlier in my career I made the move from an energetic, high growth organisation where I was making great progress and enjoying real success, moving to a slower paced SME. I did it for the sake of a bigger title which, with hindsight, wasn’t the move I needed. It did however teach me an important business lesson, namely that you don’t need a title for success. I discovered my drive was to make a difference and deliver results, and that’s fundamentally the role Lightbulb Leadership now undertakes in every assignment.

What defines your way of doing business?

For us it’s our high-energy, direct approach. Added to that is a track record of results that gives us the confidence to approach projects with an outcomes-based commercial agility. We aren’t afraid to be judged by our results.

We provide a service that, historically, would be provided by one of the big four management consultancies, which by their nature are often laden in theoretical processes and standard methods for delivery.

We take a new approach to these challenges. Working with Lightbulb Leadership doesn’t begin and end with a piece of theoretical consultancy. It’s about enabling organisations to reimagine and transform, to get buy in and consensus for change and crucially delivering long-term commercial value.

We embrace and encourage cognitive diversity among our client base – and have received the feedback that this form of challenging to think differently is what sets them on a different path for commercial success than the wider competition.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Whether you are in B2B or B2C you are in a relationship business first and foremost, so it goes without saying you need to remain close to your customers. That means seeking feedback and asking, rather than interpreting, what their challenges may be and what is going to add real value to their business.

My other key piece of advice is to understand the importance of your team challenging you. Stepping out of the way and not controlling everything is important to let the business grow and asking for help is the sign of a good leader.