A view from the floor

Iain Cornish, chief executive of the Yorkshire, says those with a positive attitude and enthusiasm make the biggest contribution to the success of an organisation

I recently had the privilege of being invited to present prizes at an awards ceremony at a school with which the society has a strong connection. I was also asked to offer a few words to the students, staff and parents attending.

I confess that this took me beyond my comfort zone of familiarity, but it did at least lead me to think about what I could say to the students and the link between education and the workplace.

The story of my own education is one of a strong but narrow focus on exam success. Looking back, my feelings on this are mixed. Academic achievement opens many doors, but to focus too narrowly on this is to risk failing to develop the many other skills which make a well-rounded individual.

In a business context the parallel to me is clear. Technical competence is important and highly valued. But the highest achieving people in any organisation, and those that make the biggest contribution to the success of that organisation, are those that bring genuine enthusiasm, warmth and spirit to their job. These qualities are infectious to their colleagues and if they can be harnessed they make for a tremendously powerful organisation.

In my experience the difference between success or failure, memorable service or a complaint, ambition or decline is a positive attitude and a smile. And from an accountant’s perspective, the beauty of both is that they cost nothing.