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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Derrick

A spotlight on Karren Brady

At 23 she opened the door for women building careers in in football. And 29 years later she continues to break down walls, shatter glass ceilings and inspire the masses. Baroness Karren Brady CBE, the Vice-Chairman of West Ham and former Managing Director of Birmingham City sat down with Steven Bartlett to discuss life, football and leading with kindness. We pulled out our favourite quotes from the interview, which you can listen to in full here.


“Ambition is something that sort of creeps up on you slowly when you realise you’re good at something and you think, ‘oh actually I’m quite good at this’ and then you think ‘actually I might be the best person in this room at this’ or ‘I might be the best person I know at this’ and that inspires you to keep going.”


“I had no qualifications but I had worked out my core values (ambitious, determined, integrity). Core values are the things that make you who you are. They are the things that lead you to make the decisions you make for yourself and the way you make decisions.”


“It doesn’t matter how much brain you have, if you don’t have a personality you can’t put that brain into a good place.”


“I always had this feeling that you know, what’s the worst that can happen?”


“People buy from people.”


“When someone says no to me, I don’t hear no, I hear find another way to get what you want.”


“Part and parcel of running a great business is to have a really good culture and a really good culture comes from trust and being candid and being honest and supporting one another.”


“I want people to say what they don’t think is right, what they think could be better, what needs to be changed. I think if you have too many like-minded people running the same organisations you’re so busy patting each other on the back as you sort of follow each other off the edge of a cliff. You need people to say hang on a minute, why is this important, how does it affect us, what does this mean we stand for, what are our values, what’s our purpose.”


“The most important thing that people want from you when you’re running your organisation is your time. They want time with you, they want you to listen to them, they want to be in your inner circle, they want to be part of it.”


The minute you think as a leader of an organisation that you know everything is the minute you don’t know anything at all. You have to believe in lifelong learning. You have to believe that the people around you are valuable enough to have a different opinion to yours that is just as important. The minute that they don’t have an opinion that’s as important as yours, you either don’t have the right team or you don’t have the right team with the right skills.”


“I like to employ people better than me.”


“You should never confuse leadership with management. Management is about setting out a series of goals and managing people to deliver them. Leadership is about vision and sometimes it’s only a vision you can see. Your art as a leader is to persuade people to believe in your vision and help you deliver it.”


“You breed great culture by listening to people, understanding the problems, finding the solutions together, having some fun while you do it.”


“The most important thing in a people business is you must never underestimate the power of kindness. Being kind to people and being respectful of people is really important.”


“They [children] learn different things from a working parent. The ability to be independent, have ambition, to value yourself to work hard.”


“I’m sure every woman at some point in their career when they’ve had to say ‘shall I stop to have a family, how is that going to affect me, how is that going to affect my pay, my career prospects, my promotion, my standing?’. Women have given birth to all the taxpayers in the world, we deserve a break really. I read that 54,000 new mothers returning to work are so badly treated because they are considered a burden to the teams in which they work.”


You can follow more of Karren’s great wisdom over on her Twitter page.


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