Neil has been Chief Executive of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council since 2008, having previously held a variety of roles in local government in a career spanning 33 years. These include working in housing, with particular involvement in major redevelopment programmes. Neil is a member of the Executive Board of Tees Valley Unlimited, Chairing both the Tees Valley Unlimited Investment Board and the TV European Investment Board.
Great ideas come from everywhere in the organisation. Its the leader's job to show that you are prepared to listen to them, and hear them.
The biggest misperception people at work have about me is that I have more academic qualifications than I do. I ignored the advice to get a degree and started my career as an apprentice housing manager.
Mel Nixon introduced me to the concept of emotional intelligence more than 20 years ago now. It had a massive impact on me, its really important to get to know how people feel as well as how they think.
I really enjoy my work, and have a deep sense of responsibility for what I do. On reflection, I think I would tell my younger self to try and enjoy it earlier. Yes, its important and serious, but you can find the fun too.
Leaders influence the behaviour of others, to achieve the organisation's goals. leaders are totally reliant on others, and forget that at their peril. I think the coveting and pursuit of status derails more leaders than enough, that and lack of resilience.
To someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader I would say read Goffee and Jones "Why should anyone be led by you?" and do an MBTI Step 2 or Headway assessment and take careful note of the feedback.
I put my success down to the huge contributions of others. I've always been prepared to learn and take opportunities and I've been fortunate to work with some brilliant people. If I have any regrets it's that I haven't always kept in touch when I or others have moved on.
The job that gave me most satisfaction was when I was a young area housing manager. It was a great time, with great freedom and a great team. I sometimes think if I were to start my career today I'd like to be a doctor in A&E.
I like to end the day feeling a sense of achievement. If I need to unwind I take the dogs out and listen to music, but whilst the job is challenging it brings far more highs than lows. I work with amazing people, and love the buzz of excitement here.
The leader I most admire is Mike Brearley. He wasn't a great cricketer, but he was a great leader, capable of getting the very best out of others.
My legacy? I'd like to leave the organisation in a really strong position to continue improving.