Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Not Even 'Genius' Leighton Can Give His All to Nine Board Roles

Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Not Even 'Genius' Leighton Can Give His All to Nine Board Roles

Article excerpt

Allan Leighton is a genius. The clarity of his no-nonsense approach to problem-solving and his strong leadership skills, honed first at Mars and then at Asda, have made him the outstanding business leader of his generation.

So outstanding, in fact, that he has proven irresistible to a number of large organisations looking for the 'Leighton effect' on their business.

He sits on the boards of BSkyB, Bhs, Cannons, Dyson, George Weston, lastminute.com and Wilson Connolly, and recently became chairman of Royal Mail and Leeds United FC.

These latter two appointments are perhaps his most challenging yet. Both can be considered formerly great institutions now in serious, perhaps terminal, decline. The Post Office lost pounds 700m last year while Leeds is widely tipped for relegation this season having sold its star players to stay afloat. Both organisations hope to engineer audacious turnarounds with Leighton at the helm. Both face a seminal moment. For the Post Office, the threat of a crippling national strike. For Leeds, the new football season.

Despite his undoubted talents, however, there is growing discomfort with Leighton's leadership at both organisations. The online chat rooms hosted by the Postal Services Commission were filled last week with disgruntled postal workers airing their grievances with their chairman. Several referred to him as 'Leighton and Co'. With biting sarcasm, one postman thanked Leighton for 'thinking of us'. Another concluded: 'The good old postman's friend Allan Leighton will get a nice couple of million for destroying the Post Office. …

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