A matter of confidence

April 23rd, 2012

Once you’ve met James Bulman you don’t forget him. At six foot three and, at a guess, a not-at-all-flabby sixteen stone, he cuts an imposing dash. You may have heard him talking about telephones: he knows what he’s talking about; and it comes over with supreme confidence. Face it: if your phones don’t do for you what they should do for you, James knows why, and he knows what to do about it.

So what, you might ask, does his impressive physique and demeanour have to do with the success of his communications business, Ability Partnership? Everything, that’s what. Surely, you might argue, it all rests on the fact that he’s taken the trouble to learn just about everything there is to know about telephones, and he knows how to apply that to businesses large and small? Not at all: that’s just the final playing-out of a lifetime of experience.

Look at James from the customer’s viewpoint: they may not care one way or another about his physique, or anything else about him apart from the fact that he knows how to fix their phones. But he inspires confidence. (Bear with me, please: I’m not trying to get elected as president of the JB Fan Club, though it may look like that. This is about understanding how we can pour all our faculties into the hunt for success.)

Like all of us, James has a life history which has made him what he is now. At age 10, he joined the Sea Cadets. He stayed with them, and with the Royal Navy, when he enrolled at Dartmouth Naval College, where, as he puts it, he learnt about team leadership.

This – and the confidence which arises from it – is evident from the way he lists his own attributes, with neither self-doubt nor bragging conceit: “I can teach others to do the things I can do. I have the power of command – the expectation that I will be obeyed.”

In an armed services context, that confidence is about inspiring excellence and performance from those under command. In the commercial marketplace, it can also apply to the way we deal with customers. On the plus side, it inspires confidence that James will deliver what he promises; and if there are issues about what’s delivered, he handles them from strength, too. Complaints? Every business has them occasionally; when they’re legitimate, we apologise, but if not, be prepared for a polite but firm rebuff from James.

Now James is harnessing these leadership skills, which have served him so well in business, in a not-for-profit training company, Group Ability UK, which will work with schools, churches and other groups.

Watch this space.

Categories: BNI

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