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Interview with Sir John Harvey Jones

 

In May 2004 I had the honour of interviewing the late Sir John Harvey-Jones, former chairman of ICI, who had generously agreed to contribute to my research for The Leader's JourneyTM.

 

We met at The Mayfair Hotel in London where he discussed his own leadership odyssey beginning with his experiences as a Naval Midshipman at the age of 15.

 

He explained how he was taught to put his men first. He is a classic example of an internalised Mentor. He had an inner code of conduct that informed his every decision.

 

He also explained that he never expected to get anywhere therefore he was free of the politics. In his own words:

 

"I was always rocking boats - but to be fair - they were waiting to be rocked."

 

He also felt a great sense of responsibility as a leader:

 

"If  the business is failing it's 90% your fault, or that of your predecessor."

 

I was also touched by his playful sense of humility:

 

"Bosses are the same slobs with bigger jobs."