News & Media

Please see below a selection of press coverage for SIBL in the national and business press

Dunfermline Press 24 Feb 2011
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The Sunday Times (Scotland)

November 2004

New Power for Business

Spirituality and business are not traditional bedfellows, as anyone with an eye on Enron will know. The film The Corporation, currently screening in cinemas, examines the psychological profile of the average multinational, based on its self-interest, manipulative tendencies and handling of responsibility, and concludes that if it were human, it would be a full-blown psychopath. Is this all the more reason to introduce more soul-friendly considerations to the boardroom.Some firms are doing so already. In recent years, the old “command and control” models of leadership have been eclipsed in business literature by an emphasis on “emotional intelligence”, which values interpersonal skills as highly as IQ.

Perhaps “spiritual intelligence” is simply the next step on the same road. But what exactly is spirituality? Robin Burgess, the Stirling-based programme director of the recently formed Scottish Institute for Business Leaders (SIBL), ought to know, having been a practising monk for 13 years before branching into management. Like Alfred, he’s a great believer in a higher dimension, but argues there are good reasons why people in suits aren’t often heard talking about “the god within”.“I’m reluctant to call it spirituality, though that’s what it is, because as soon as you name it, you find it gets colonised by someone with an agenda, claiming you’ll be successful and make lots of money if you embrace Jesus Christ, or whatever.

It’s hard to keep the space open.”In fact, the quality of openness — to new ideas, to ethical and environmental considerations, to unexpected partnerships and deals — seems to come closest to a definition of what the new breed of business guru means by “spirit”, rather than any traditional concept of religion. It’s a habit Burgess first learned as a member of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, an open monastic order dedicated to teaching.“As a monk I would get up early in the morning and meditate, and that gave me a sense both of the value of discipline and of creative space,” says Burgess, who later worked in several public-sector management jobs before accepting his current post as a social work lecturer at Stirling University. “Many of us believe that the harder we run on the hamster wheel, the more effective we’ll be. It’s a big step to get off the wheel and come to a meeting like this for the first time. But the long-term implications can be very valuable.”

Monthly SIBL meetings allow chief executives from various Scottish companies to talk honestly and in confidence with like-minded colleagues about the nitty-gritty of company policy and what Burgess calls “the bigger picture”. The language may favour “blue sky thinking” over “the god within”, but many businessmen would admit to a sense of something higher.

“When you put out feelers, you find that ideas like synchronicity are common to leaders,” he says. “You commit yourself as an example to something that’s bigger than yourself — for example, to the community as well as your business. Then the next day you bump into somebody who’s hoping to do the same thing. The underpinning thing seems to be spirituality, when you’re willing to be open to the present moment, take risks, trusting that what you need will be there when you need it.”

Scotland on Sunday — Barfly 5 October 2008
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Scotsman 8 June 2004

New drive to boost success of SMEs

A GROUP of 15 ambitious chief executives and managing directors have formed a new member organisation targeting the Scottish SME market.

A Royal Bank of Scotland report released last month claimed that few mid-size companies were making the transition into global wealth-creators – but the Scottish Institute for Business Leaders (SIBL) said yesterday that it is planning to tackle that issue head-on, and that there are plenty of organisations out there ready to become the next Scottish corporate heavyweight.

Chairman Drew Pryde explained that Members get access to a range of events and meetings but, more importantly, they can also call on each other for advice and skills. The organisation is hopeful that the idea will spawn further sister groups, which will then develop into a network of some of the best SME brains in the country.

“If we’re to see real economic growth in Scotland, we need the effort to come from the country’s SMEs. They can provide an enormously strong basis on which the rest of the country can grow and develop,” he told The Scotsman.

“SIBL is about real businesses working on real issues in real time. However, the key thing is that we’re not looking to the Scottish Executive or Westminster to solve our problems.

“Our members acknowledge that the buck rests with them to do as much as they possibly can within their own sphere of control. Ask yourself: ‘Why pay £20,000 for a non-executive director or two, when by joining SIBL, you can have access to ten?’”

Pryde reckons that SIBL, which has just moved into its new base in Stirling University’s Innovation Park, is made up of the chief executives and managing directors in a first group of what he calls “some of Scotland’s most promising SMEs”.

Members include Ray Jones, chief executive of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society in Scotland; Neil Spreckley, the managing director of Ewos; John Blythe, the managing director of Coilcraft Europe, and Michael Clarke, the chief executive of Buccleuch Estates.

“SIBL has grown out of the grassroots of Scottish industry and it makes sense to utilise the expertise of people who have actually experienced problems and learned to deal with them so others don’t need to go through the same learning experiences,” added Pryde.

“The collective knowledge of our members is immense and the opportunity to share it is priceless. We may only have a small voice, but we have some very important things to say.”

The Scotsman
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