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The key ingredient to success is people, senior TA Para tells Annual Law Dinner attendees

16/11/2017 Leah Hodgson

The key ingredient to a successful business is people according to Ranald Munro, general counsel at Lombard International Assurance.

Speaking to heads of private client (or the like) at the 2017 eprivateclient Annual Law Dinner, Mr Munro - who is also a Major General in the Parachute Regiment TA, is the most senior serving reservist in the Ministry of Defence and is currently serving as the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Reserves and Cadets) - said: "Quoting a Chinese proverb, 'if you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people'.

"Additionally, Mr Munro went on, "it was Zig Ziglar who said 'you don't build businesses, you build people who build businesses'. There are many more quotes but the common denominator is people."

However, Mr Munro observed, people alone cannot complete a mission but rather teams. "If you look at [F1 World Champion] Lewis Hamilton and what he has achieved, there is a whole engine behind him. He of course is important but there are also designers, engineers, a pit crew, and all these things together make it possible for him to win."

In order to build a successful team, a common purpose is required. Mr Munro stated that without a common vision, a team will not be pulling in the same direction and therefore will not be able to optimise its output. 

But it is not enough to have that vision, according to him, you also need to be able to articulate the steps to achieve it. "You need to know where you're going and the plan to get there," Mr Munro commented: "Things might happen along the way, and things might go wrong but if you have a plan then you will be able to overcome challenges and make the necessary changes to get to the end goal."

A successful team also requires good management which necessitates "consistency and integrity." Mr Munro explained: "Nobody wants to come to work in the morning thinking is the boss in a good or bad mood today? Do I have to walk on eggshells? If that happens then something has gone terribly wrong." 

For Mr Munro, these two principles create a safe environment for staff where people know they have a voice that will be heard. 

A diversity of people will allow for a strong team, Mr Munro stated. Having a variety of views is a necessity including a mix of genders and ethnicities, "we need talent and talent doesn't stem from a narrow demographic," he claimed.

In addition to building a successful team, Mr Munro addressed the issue of motivating individuals. Aside from giving them a common vision and a plan, those in a leadership position need to explain to each individual with "real clarity" his or her role within the plan and provide these individuals with the necessary resources to fulfill their purpose. 

Mr Munro concluded: "Select your people wisely, develop them individually and build a diverse team. It's not rocket science; it's leadership."

The 2017 eprivateclient Annual Law Dinner for heads of private client (or the like) was held on Tuesday 14 November at The Goring Hotel in London. The dinner was attended by 19 senior partners, managing partners and heads of private clients and the managing director of PAM Insight Ed Hicks, who was also chair for the evening. The dinner was kindly sponsored by Sanlam and Lombard International Assurance.

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