"Why don't you write something about VAT?", says Jana, our communications manager. Write about VAT? How could I possibly write anything interesting about VAT? Maybe I could write about that moment early this morning where I was sat calculating VAT for a difficult case with a baby bottle to my left and the sweet sound of my youngest daughter babbling away to my right. I'd like to say I was wearing a sexy little night dress, but I wasn't - I was just in my usual, unflattering pyjamas.
There's not a lot to say about VAT; it simply isn't very sexy. I suspect Jana might be trying to act in her own interest: why not write about something boring now, so the next few blogs come across a lot better? Brilliant marketing strategy, right?
Talking of strategy: as a former CEO, now there's a subject I know a thing or two about.
Which strategy have I been living by over the past few years? As a foster mum to two beautiful girls, it's been a big melting pot of creative thinking, picking and choosing ideas, playing to my strengths and compensating for my weaknesses, combining my home and work life, thinking, rethinking during long car journeys, planning, planning and planning. It hasn't been easy, but I must say I've enjoyed the challenge.
Of course, everyone always has some well-intentioned advice for you.
For example, I was told about the wolf pack strategy:
“Let me tell you how a pack of wolves moves around. The three weakest and oldest wolves in the pack are at the front, setting the pace for the rest. Behind them, there are five fit, young wolves who protect the seniors in case they are attacked from the front. Those are followed by the main pack, with another five young and strong wolves providing protection from behind. So, who's right at the back? The pack leader. He's not out in front, like you might think. Instead, he provides support to the entire group from the back, keeps an eye out for unforeseen circumstances, anticipates what is happening in front of him and, if necessary, protects the entire group from behind in the event of an attack. He's got a perfect overview and can see the actions of each individual in the pack. Those are the foundations for a well-functioning team: leaders who are always out at the front can't keep an eye on their team. They suffer casualties without even noticing, and their pack could fall apart without them being any the wiser. “ A leader who always remains well out of the firing line. It's a good strategy, right? Actually, coming to think of it, he sounds like a bit of a coward, letting the young, inexperienced wolves deal with any trouble while quietly slipping away to safety.
Tossing your team to the lions might be another way of putting it. It's not exactly the hallmark of kindness, but I must add, I might have been guilty of it every now and then... sorry, guys!
Working together like a pride of lions is another option: well thought-out moves and unique interplay. Then again... the lion, king of the animals, with his striking, powerful appearance, calmly licking his mane in the warm sunlight—while the females are out actually doing the hunting. Maybe that's why there are so many women working at Seauton?
Leading and being led: it's not an easy task. I did enjoy it, but my favourite strategy is to simply ask my eldest brother—our CEO, Jan Samyn—to take care of things.
I'll happily stick to my own job as CFO: long live VAT!
Inge Samyn, CFO Seauton International