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My Journey – From Fighting My Pride To Hitting My Stride with the Team Leadership Programme

An Interview with Steve Lloyd, Production & Print Room Manager at the Laltex Group UK and Graduate of the Team Leadership Programme Delivered by the Manufacturers Alliance Academy.

How did you start out?

Humble beginnings, I didn’t take much to school and didn’t really grow up with many opportunities until I applied for a job as a trainee printer at Laltex Group UK. The MD, Sanjay Mulchand at the time had just set up a new printing room to bring all the product printing in house  and had just purchased his first Pad Printing machine. 20 years later I now manage the print room and its operations which has grown to house over 40 machines operated by over 60 people.

Why did you enrol on the Team Leadership Programme?

I didn’t want to!

I’m a high energy, motivated person with a bit of an OCD for doing things a certain way. Which is good for production most of the time, but did mean I could be a bit set in my ways.

We had a LEAN expert come in, who identified that my gradual promotion and additional responsibilities were good, but not tied in with any formal training or learning in leadership or operations.

It was suggested that both myself and the workplace would benefit hugely from me enrolling on to the Team Leadership Development Programme and being formally mentored by my leader and Managing Director, Neil Horner.

I care passionately about my job and totally trust my employers, so if they believed we should try this form of training and support, I would go along with it.

How was the first day of the leadership programme?

I didn’t believe in showing vulnerability or weakness. I walked in thinking I already knew everything, and this was going to be a drag with not many expectations. I was a strong, confident person in my position and trade already.

But as soon as I met the other students and the trainers, in particular Juliette who made me feel so welcome I started to sit back and listen. Every module we explored was so easily understood through clear explanation and actually quite fun! I enjoyed getting up and talking and even using the sticky notes on boards to present ideas. I also loved  listening to the others, who I quickly clicked with.

I felt amazing by the end of the day!

How did the programme change you?

On a personal level, Juliette had all the time in the world for me, she really was there, and it genuinely feels like what we are doing meant something to her. This was particularly significant to me as halfway through the programme, I had a major loss in my life on unexpectedly discovering my mother had passed away. She was only 56.

I had to leave the programme.

the academy - leadership programme tutor - Juliette
Juliette Yardley, Tutor and Coach with the Manufacturers’ Alliance Academy

My mum didn’t have anything in place to cover funeral costs, but I had been saving for quite a few years to put a deposit on a new house. I didn’t think twice about ensuring my mum got the best goodbye I could give her and used my deposit money for the funeral costs.  It was a tough time with the hardest part being having to sort through her home and belongings, in preparing the house for the new occupants.

When I came through the dark months of grief and shock, I had to get back in the saddle. I have an amazing wife and two boys who needed me.

Gary and Trish at the Manufacturers’ Alliance quickly and warmly welcomed me back on the next programme with another class of students to complete my modules. With Juliette and Jonathan as the trainers and their familiar faces – it was a comfort despite feeling apprehensive.

The team leadership programme gave me an additional sense of purpose.

I wanted to make everyone proud of my resilience and most importantly, I now wanted to make my parents proud of how far I had come and set the best example to my boys.

One of the best parts of the programme was that it was not always in the classroom and getting out to see other factories, which is a rare opportunity even for manufacturers. But to be fair I did surprisingly enjoy the classroom, it was good, almost entertaining! We got up to share our issues and ambitions with work and life, and everyone got so involved, I was gutted when it was over.

How did it help the Business?

On a professional level, it gave me an even stronger future. It enabled me to see my workplace through fresh eyes, looking for better, more efficient ways of doing things. Quite a big part of this was being less about myself, putting pride aside and working closer with the team. I realised listening to other ideas more closely and working as a team would get the best results and ensure we were constantly improving on everything we do.

My project coursework that I implemented is saving the business on waste, cost and time. Seeing the financial investment returned within year one and will continue to make savings while those machines are running.

Managing Director Neil and Steve with Machine in Factory after the leadership programme
Neil & Steve alongside the new embroidery machine at the Laltex Group UK Manufacturing Facility.

Helping me helps the business, I want to think that one of the best decisions my directors ever made was enabling me to become one of their leaders. I will never let anyone down and I want them to be incredibly proud of me, I believe anything is possible if you have the right mindset and I only have to look at how far I’ve come to believe it.

Best moment of the Leadership Programme?

My final presentation for graduation. It wasn’t scripted or full of loads of facts and figures as knew it needed to come from the heart and be authentic. The moment was made even more pivotal as all the students from the first programme I enrolled on to (and had to leave behind), actually SURPRISED me by showing up alongside my new classmates.

If there was ever a moment to prove I had lost the bravado ‘front’, this was it as the emotion took over.

Worst Moment?

When initially asked to undertake the course. I felt insulted, I was proud to be a very strong, fearless leader, straight talking and confrontational even at times. When it was first suggested I would ‘benefit’ from the leadership programme, I was offended thinking my peers and managers thought I was no good. This was never the case, but I wasn’t in the place to see support and help when it was offered from a good place at the time.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Growth, I have learnt that I will always love to learn and develop what I think I already know. I hope to make the Laltex team proud and be a part of it’s future ongoing success.

Expansion, with the print room expanding as it has and now taking a delivery of an embroidery machine. I’m excited to see the growth continue at Laltex and be the one to support it. I see myself contributing significantly towards making the print room figures better, continually less wasteful and more profitable but most importantly – I want everyone to come to work happy!

Rewards, I also see myself finally in a new house with a nice new car (I’ve driven bangers around for all my years) But once my family are set up in a nice new home, I will finally get a decent car for myself. In the longer-term future, I want to give my boys the opportunities I never had. I aim to lead by example for them and to impress into them my strong work ethic whilst passing down all of the skills I have learnt.

You work hard and smart, you can reap the rewards.

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