Campaign special: Lighthouse founder on ‘Battle For Best’

In our latest contribution to Campaign, our founder Kathleen talks about the impact of great leadership on your organisation being a great place to work.

A visionary, transformational leader is critical for any organisation looking to lure and retain the very best – yet it’s essential they are gifted the runway to truly lead.

 In a highly competitive hiring war, where the talent holds ever more bargaining power, it is critical for organisations to use their entire armoury to attract the very best. Victory means focusing on long term strategies, not just short-term tactics.


A visionary frontline leader is single-handedly the greatest weapon an organisation can engage for talent attraction and retention. You will recognise these leaders as they place themselves in a highly visible and vulnerable position. Inherently knowing there can be no going back from the difficult and defining decisions their role requires of them, they will force a stake in the ground in front and remove the path of return from behind.

Rock-solid and unwavering in their self-belief, they also ensure their own ego does not detract from their ability to ‘rally the troops’. They lead by excellence and example, be it tackling the traumas of transformation or injustices of inequality, and are as much company flag-bearer as corporate fighter.

A study by Deloitte has shown six in ten employees cite leadership as a critical reason for staying in their role, a figure reinforced by the Lighthouse’s annual New World Talent Survey of more than 600 C-suite executives. This research has consistently shown direct leadership to be an enduring and potent factor influencing the next career move of executive talent. Valued for their scarcity and rarity, the impact of a pioneering leader on the wider workforce should never be underestimated – finding and retaining one must be the number one consideration for every organisation vying for the best talent or the accolade of best place to work.

We will explore this further at Advertising Week Europe when we take to the stage with Ant Middleton – formerly of the Special Forces and chief instructor on Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins – to probe the skills and psychology essential for brave and visionary leadership.


With Glassdoor research showing enhanced employee benefits can greatly influence employee career moves, the long-term impact of these cultural drivers on leadership talent can be somewhat different.

It is clear the potency of some ‘uber-perks’ quickly wears off over time and can subsequently have an adverse impact on senior executives by placing them in a state of corporate capture. At a time when brave leadership is essential, there is a pervading sense of great talent being stifled rather than developed.

Our discussions with industry leaders highlight those organisations with a greater breadth of benefits can be more likely to restrict the individual’s voice and operating runway needed to excel. How many SVPs do you know who are not allowed to sign off a simple hire or press release, let alone voice their true professional opinions in a public forum, yet at the same time are awash with free canteens and unlimited holidays? Often these personal benefits are masking a greater movement from the much needed and desired leadership autonomy to a perilous path of employee conformity.

The Lighthouse Company’s 2017 research identified this corporate conforming as having the single biggest impact on a lack of transformational talent within our sector, yet those who do exist are the very same pioneering leaders who make organisations so appealing. These visionaries have grown through their exposure to autonomy and vulnerability – the next generation of leadership requires the same conditions to drive and thrive. Are you harbouring corporate capture or creating an autonomous leadership culture?