AB Thinks  →  29th May 2020

Your biggest, best, boldest self

In Episode 10 of Season 3, Chief Executive of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), Adriènne Kelbie, discusses the difference between transparency and accessibility, what it means to be a role model, and the need for authenticity in comms.

The first woman to take up the lead role at the ONR, Adriènne describes herself as an outlier, markedly different from other chief executives. She is a passionate advocate of values-based leadership and encouraging diversity in all its forms. Last year, she won the Northern Power Women’s Transformational Leader Award for her efforts in the industry.

In this episode, Adriènne discusses her upbringing, how it shaped her value system, and why integrity is the number one characteristic in any good communicator. Below we share a selection of Adriènne’s expert insights over an impressive career. To hear her conversation with Katie in full, and to access our back catalogue of episodes featuring top communicators, subscribe to The IC Podcast.

Adriènne firmly believes that true leaders coach and develop those around them to be their best selves. Tweet us at @ABThinks outlining what you thought about the episode for the chance to win a one-on-one coaching session with Adriènne.

#1 Forgiveness: learn from impact rather than intention
“I think we have to learn from impact rather than intention. Whilst I may intend for this to happen, if it has a negative impact, that means someone may not want to come back, or it means they won’t trust me again, or they’ll be more cautious. And, actually, I’m all about wanting people to be less cautious, wanting them to be bigger and to try new things and feel confident to be themselves. So, I think it’s incredibly important that as leaders and colleagues we both offer forgiveness and seek forgiveness.”

#2 Presenting a big vision is about authenticity
“Keep things simple. Tell the stories about how you’ll do things. Be personal; don’t be formal. People have to see you as a communicator, not your lines, not your jotter. They need to see what you are like because they also have to get a feel for whether they trust you, want to work with you and if they can see you in situ. I think in comms if you’re not authentic, if you’re not yourself, then you’re not going to compel anybody to believe you.”

#3 Your values will always show through
“From a communications leadership perspective, your values are always going to show up, even when you think they won’t. If you have a bad attitude or values that are in some way nefarious or somehow self-serving, then people will find you out. You can’t pretend; you have to be yourself. I was raised to take accountability for myself… and to understand there is always a choice… You may not like the choices, but none of us are hostages in life, yet we often behave as if we are.”

#4 Changes of approach after Covid-19
“We’re powering through an incredibly challenging scenario and none of that has shaken our commitment to doing our jobs to the best of our abilities. So, I think as we realise that we’ll never go ‘back to normal’, we need to get rid of the emotional connection – as if yesterday’s ‘normal’ was somehow great. We need to release that fear, and to think ahead to what the ‘new normal’ could look like.”

#5 Who doesn’t want to be in a successful team?
“I never talk about silo mentality because then I’m anchoring the very thing that I don’t want. And actually, I don’t think it is so much a ‘mentality’. I think it is a lack of broader context and awareness. I think the story is much more compelling, telling the stories of when we’ve succeeded through teamwork. I always use teamwork as that contributing factor, because who doesn’t want to be in a successful team”

#6 Transparency versus accessibility
“For me, the word ‘accessibility’ is about being open but in a way that people can understand. It’s very easy to say ‘we’re transparent, we publish everything’, but if nobody knows what it means and the general public can’t at least follow that story, then it isn’t really accessible.”

#7 Consistency isn’t negotiable in a role model
“If you’re really interested in making a difference over and above the process side, and having some benefit, [one of the most important things] is recognising and being a visible role model. Research into women and BAME minorities in particular, shows that having visible role models is the single biggest thing any company, any sector, any team can do… It takes time and effort, and consistency isn’t negotiable. You can’t be a role model on Monday but decide that you just can’t be bothered on Tuesday. You have to be there – and that requires you not just to be a role model within [your organisation] but without.