Mike Dawson

Group HR and Corporate Services Director - Dale Farm

Tell us a bit about your role?

I lead the HR and IT teams for the Dale Farm Group. I also fulfil the role of Company Secretary and deal with Group legal matters.

What are the biggest issues facing leaders today?

The rate of change in the competitive environment continues to gather pace. Whether it’s technology, talent or commercial, the ability to adapt and evolve to macro and micro changes is critical to any leader’s successful delivery against their strategy.

As organisations get larger there’s often a tendency toward dampening inspiration. How do you encourage creative thinking within your business?

Most people are more creative than they give themselves credit for. We aim to create a culture of open and ongoing communication where people are given the time and opportunity to express themselves. People need to feel free to say what’s on their mind. That’s the only way to solve problems and develop solutions. One hundred percent of the ideas that we fail to share will lead to nothing.

If you had to name three characteristics of great leaders what would they be?

Flexibility is key as not everything goes as planned. Leaders run into all types of barriers. High performing leaders are those that react and adjust their plans despite perceived setbacks. 

Communication combined with humility and presence. It is critical to share your thoughts and vision to empower those who work for and with you.
Courage is essential as the safe or easy option will not deliver exceptional results. Having the courage to stand against the status quo and see something through can drive innovation and provide true differentiation.

What advice would you give someone going into leadership position for the first time?

Recognise that you have earned the right to be in the role. You likely got the role because of your strong individual contributions. Now your job is to become an equally strong leader. A key part of this is to become a master in the art of delegation. New leaders often over-manage. Nobody expects you to know everything. Actively listen to your team and peers. Never be afraid to ask questions. Set yourself a realistic plan for the first 100 days in the role. It is useful to hold yourself accountable in the early days to ensure you are still heading true north.

Connect with Us

Clarendon Group, 12b Clarendon Road, Clarendon Dock, Belfast, BT1 3BG

Telephone +44(0)28 9072 5750  e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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