leading people you must lead by example.

That was one of the points raised by Alasdair Gardner, head of industrials and commercial bank Scotland at Lloyds Banking Group, keynote speaker at The Herald’s The Future of Leadership event, held in association with CMS.

Mr Gardner, in a frank, honest and often humorous presentation, admitted he “didn’t always get it right” in his early days as a senior manager.

“Some of the things I did in those early years weren’t very clever,” he said. “I am fortunate that I had a mentor who would challenge me to look at things differently, and understand the importance of a work-life balance.

“I was the first guy in the office and the last to leave – I thought that was what a manager should do – but when I was challenged on that I had the lightbulb moment.

“My mentor said to me, ‘if you don’t lead by example, how can you expect your team to do the same?’ – that resonated with me.

“Yes, you still have to take those difficult decisions and no matter how good things are going and how happy everyone is it’s never going to be happy-clappy all the time.”

Mr Gardner suggested that the strength of a good leader was the ability to recognise potential in others and the realisation that bringing in someone with different, perhaps better skills than you in some areas, could only be for the long-term benefit of your business.

He referred to his three-year secondment with Lloyds Banking Group as its head of global corporates in North America as providing valuable insight into the culture of a company.

“I headed up a team of 330 in Manhattan and very quickly it became absolutely clear to me that no-one there understood the organisation,” he said.

This inspired Mr Gardner to set up a successful exchange programme and concentrate on creating better communication lines to make the American division feel part of the wider Lloyds team.