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Debbie Nicol (Business en Motion) : ‘You are only a leader if others think you are’


We had a talk with Debbie Nicol, CEO of Dubai based “Business en Motion”.. A business consultancy and learning organization which moves existing mid-big businesses and leaders ahead: ahead of current performance and competitive forces.

Debbie, tell us about your background?

I left my native Australian shores approximately 20 years ago on my second international expat experience, and simply forget to go home

Ever-thankful for the skills my initial career of teaching provided me, I branched out into the world of corporate training within the Hotel Industry. This soon took me into the HR development and OD arena, leading me to a global role. After hitting the glass ceiling, I took the leap of faith to open my own business. I saw huge opportunity to build corporate business and learning solutions that reconnected C-suite and middle-level leadership with themselves, their strategies, teams and customers, and have never really looked back, as the ‘corporate gap’ is omnipresent I’m afraid.

What services does ‘business en motion’ offer?

‘business en motion’ is a business consultancy and learning organization which has change at its core. Our motto, ‘moving businesses and leaders ahead’ is served through three divisions, the consultancy division which works with change and cultures, the training and learning division which designs and delivers both customized and proprietary solutions for leaders and the coaching division, for which we specialize in executive, team and leadership coaching.

Which industries does ‘business en motion’ serve?

Organizations are only as strong as the leadership practices they adopt. The need for organizational development and change exists in any and all industry, as do people. In fact, we often open leaders minds when serving a new industry due to the depth of curiosity we bring to it.

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In which regions do you operate?

‘business en motion’ has been serving predominantly the Middle East and into Asia for over 10 years now. With our proprietary products we often facilitate change processes and leadership development with our partners on a global basis.

Our presence can be widespread, due to one of our USPs being that we build ourselves out rather than into a company’s landscape. We achieve this by building in-house capability, and phased in approaches where evidence of change exists prior to embarking on further progress.

How is your approach different from other companies offering these kind of services?

We place connection at the middle of our service through the concept of ‘the red thread’. Any and all of our services must serve a desired and defined outcome. Whether we are working with new leadership behaviors, redesigned processes, mergers, enhanced performance or sales process or a myriad of other changes, there must be an alignment between business action and business outcome, and again an alignment between the measurement and action. Disconnection is at the core of all inefficiency and ineffectiveness, and it simply does not need to be that way when applying the template of ‘be-do-measure’.

Can leadership be learned?

We love this question and draw from the research of ‘The Leadership Challenge’ to respond. The research demonstrates that leadership is a set of learnable, teachable and even measurable set of skills. The question should not be ‘are leaders born or made’; it’s rather about what we do with what we have that makes the difference. Leadership is everyone’s job and at the same time leadership is a choice. So what are you doing currently with what you have? You are only a leader if others think you are, and that will be based on what they observe in your everyday decisions and choices.

We see one of your proprietary products is ORSC. Tell us about that.

The world of business revolves around relationships. Business is rarely done with those we don’t feel good about, do not trust and cannot rely on.

ORSC is an acronym for ‘Organizational Relationship Systems Coaching’ and we apply this process with workplace teams. ORSC developed from a combination of process work, change and systems theory, mediation and negotiation techniques as well as emotional intelligence. A system is when two or more people come together through dependency and have a common goal. Dependency generates ‘something’ which may be as positive as productivity and motivation, or may be as negative as toxic communication, conflict and role confusion. Relationships are human systems which experience cause and effect.

The ORSC approach to team and leader development revolves around Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI) finding ways to move beyond the individuals in a team and work with the space between the people, where the system’s inner wisdom and voice lies untapped. Through ORSC, a team identity flourishes, accountability is a way of life and continuous improvement is the default in all that we do.

Which organizations do you partner with to ‘give back’

‘business en motion’ thrives on assisting people, systems and organizations to reach their potential. With our key clients being in the mid-big level of organizations, we do however remember where our roots lie. KIVA is a non-profit microfinance organization which provides funding to small operators in emerging countries. The reason we support KIVA is because it is also educating sustainable practices as each operator must pay back the loan, introducing accountability into their lives. It’s very rewarding to see someone find their feet, build business success, grow personally as well as understand and demonstrate responsibility and accountability.

Any new services ahead?

Our KPI for growth is not based on the size of the company we serve, nor the revenue the project generates, yet degree of stretch we can facilitate in others while assisting new and varied projects. Our next project is bringing together three new aspects never previously combined; it’s a matter of ‘watch this space’ as business is surely ‘en motion’.

What do you do in your spare time to relieve the entrepreneurial pressure?

I’m a very lucky lady as yes, while there can be some tough times, I never really feel as if I’ve worked a day in my life; I simply love what I do. So even work doesn’t stress me that much. Yet finding balance is important and I achieve that in the great outdoors where I trek often, and engage with a myriad of water sports. Other than that I love writing, and my first series of provocations is ‘embers of the world’ which provides a leadership model for the changing world that helps people reconnect to who they are, and have likely ‘thrown away’ for the sake of the corporate ladder. My latest achievement is a small 50 page corporate guide for executives, representing a complementary product on the website, where a quirky CEO provides insights to those feeling stuck in business. Currently under layout and available soon, ‘What if I Moved My Chair? – Great Leadership Sits where Opportunity Exists’ was created for those who could feel our connection and wondered how we had achieved it.

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