Kathryn Winterburn is an Oasis Associate specialising in organisation and leadership development. Her work helps people see the context of their systems from different perspectives. She is skilled at challenging norms and behaviours, generating new possibilities for lasting change.
She works with individuals, teams, boards and other diverse groups supporting their development and learning with a range of approaches. Her experience spans the international, public and private sectors over 30 years, including as head of the NHS Yorkshire and the Humber Leadership Academy, a regional resource for the provision of leadership development and organisation development for senior leaders. She holds a Master’s Degree in Management Learning and Leadership from Lancaster University.
We interviewed Kathryn to find out more about her, what gets her out of bed in the morning and what keeps her awake at night.
What was your first job?
My first job was a Saturday job aged 14 or 15. I worked at William Hill Bookmakers in a back office separating, sorting and filing used winning betting slips. They came by the sack full from around the country and were in triplicate. Each one had to be separated, stacked in their respective colours, before being filed numerically. It was mundane, low paid but it was work and I wanted to earn some money. From this Saturday job I went on to work on a bookstall at an outdoor market in all weathers before securing a better Saturday job at a supermarket on the checkouts! I also had some ‘fun’ summer jobs too, despatching taxis and working the late shift in a biscuit factory.
My first real job was as a temp in the Sales department at British Telecom, strangely it involved sales orders, which came off a printer in triplicate and had to be separated by colour before being sent to the customer. I have since held very diverse range of roles in the public and private sector including general management and HR/OD and Leadership Development.
What are you working on at the moment?
I very recently set up my own business as a leadership development and organisation development consultant. Current assignments include one-to-one coaching and delivery of a medium-term leadership development programme using action learning and a variety of inputs.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The opportunity to continually learn and put that learning to positive use.
What keeps you up at night?
Other than the fact that the world seems to have descended into an ugly level of division and intolerance, it tends to be situations where I know other people are relying on me or my contribution, that keep me awake.
A lot of my early career was in customer service industries. The negative impact of poor service, keeping people waiting or not delivering, was drilled into me. I want to ensure I provide a high quality responsive service to my clients so if I have been exceptionally busy and may have left an email unanswered I worry. I am acutely aware that one’s reputation is impacted by what and how you deliver for clients and customers.
What do you think is the most important requirement for the workplace of tomorrow?
Equality and fairness. The workplace of tomorrow will need to be tuned in to the diverse needs of its workforce.
What makes a great leader?
In my experience the best leaders have been those who genuinely listen to others and recognise that they don’t have all the answers so put a good team around them. I have worked with some fabulously visionary leaders whose vision has unfortunately got lost in translation as the team around them did not understand the vision and how best to implement.
Therefore the ability to communicate with diversity is fundamental. Most leaders would agree with this but it is a rare leader that really checks for understanding and brings people with them.
What advice do you give to those who want to become more leaderful?
Let go of your ego and learn to be comfortable with ambiguity, spend more time than you imagine is necessary listening to your employees.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher. I would arrange my dolls and soft toys on my bed and stand at the front of the ‘class’ instructing them!
What is your favourite word?
What do you do to relax?
Yoga, go for walks, watch Rugby Union.
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
The ability to turn back time and utilise hindsight!