Questioning everything: Ben Wales
I am a Masters level coach, facilitator and author specialising in leadership and high performance of growth companies between £5m and £100m turnover. I’ve a particular interest in questions and the role they play for the highest growth companies, teams and leaders.
Today I spend over 1000 hours per year in high impact conversations with growth company leaders and senior teams. My journey and experience began with rocket science, pivoted into 20 years of running, growing and leading companies, then a second degree and writing a book. Here’s my story:
As a former leader in divisional, founder and Managing Director roles I’ve 19 years of hands on leadership experience of scaling up companies. I learned both how complex, demanding, uncertain, exciting and frustrating growth is and the ways I could lead to create unexpectedly good progress.
I learned the potential of individuals and that the group or team dynamic is the most powerful enabler, and disabler, of their success.
I learned that enabling a team powerfully accelerates each person in it plus, of course, the team’s own impact. I was surprised how teams becoming cohesive then high performing led to dramatic impact outside the teams: the thinking, insight, potential and achievement of the whole organisation leapt forward and it became clear that external challenges could be met, every time, by the questions, inventiveness and execution of our teams.
I realised that effective teams, let alone high performance teams, are rare in business. I understood how cohesiveness and approach enabled stretching performance and saw the dysfunctions a team can identify and embrace as signposts to catapult themselves forward. I learned to release teams from artificial harmony, group-think and awkward humour as ways of plastering over their dysfunction.
As a scale up company MD I took the teams I led through growth, transformation and successful sale. I stayed with my teams as they achieved their best ever quarters immediately after sale (a moment when many falter, plateau or fail) and I’m proud that each team remained 100% intact.
Today I focus my practice for individual leaders, senior teams and the founder or CEO who is the key leader of the business because it is intervention in all three places that unlocks potential.
Prior to my 19 years of scale up leadership my early career was as a rocket scientist. Leaving university with a Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics I took my first role at DERA (the UK’s equivalent to NASA) at Farnborough.
I still use the patterns of mission analysis and design as I facilitate growth companies to become clear about what’s possible, concrete objectives, strategies for each stage of their powerful trajectory and also identifying and solving the pitfalls, obstacles and failures that happen along the way.
If you’re ready to explore the potential of questions for you, your team or your company, ask me today.