I was invited to both speak and introduce the other speakers at the Pepperells Solicitors Ltd winter leadership conference held in Hull.  They have been clients for more than 6 years in which time they have grown rapidly, and continue to grow, until they now number more than 170 in the team.

Ben Pepperell, himself a great believer in never-ending learning and personal development, initiated the annual conference in 2022 and this year the speakers came from both within and outside the business.

Jamie Peacock Hull KR” by Fleets is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Jamie Peacock On Leadership and Success – past England and Great Britain Rugby League captain.

Jamie is a tall, lean quietly spoken man with a history of immense success in one of the toughest sports legally permissible.  He played for eight years for Bradford Bulls before switching to the Leeds Rhinos, akin in League terms to switching from Liverpool to Man Utd or Arsenal to Tottenham.  He became one of the most successful league players in history, winning 9 Grand Finals, the World Club Challenge as well as Players Player and Man of Steel.   He played for England 21 times and Great Britain 26 times, captaining both.

His commentary on the components of both Success and Leadership were clearly born of long and tough experience but contextualised by a penetrating understanding of people and the behaviours that make a successful team.



Optimism and positivity.  It’s impossible to inspire either yourself or others with a cloud of negativity around your head.

Self-discipline. Push yourself when no-one is watching.

Go the Extra Mile.  Do more than is expected of you.

Keep improving.  It’s a growth mindset.  Continuous personal development.  As we know, you cannot out-earn your learning.

Self-belief. As Henry Ford is reputed to have said – ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right’.


As a Leader:

Walk the walk. Behaviour breeds behaviour.  Leaders set the culture and ethos.

Hard Truths.  Have honest conversations; set the standards.

Know you team.  Ask questions and listen hard.  Know them as individuals and distinct characters.

Collaborate.  Your right way may not be the only right way!



Enjoy the wins.  Celebrate collectively.  It subliminally reinforces the successful behaviours and actions.

Commit to the Plan.  Simplify the plan.  Put the side before yourself.  Disagree, thrash it out, then commit.

Resilience.  Stuff happens.  Don’t blame anyone else.  Forgive yourself.  Ask ‘how can we do better’? Keep everything in perspective, in its rightful context and be grateful for all you have.

Commitment.  It’s an act – not a word. Push and keep pushing.  Stay loyal to what you said long after the mood has passed.


Working Smarter, not Harder.    Matthew Atkin

This oft quoted expression might seem somewhat meaningless until you know how it can be applied in your workplace.

In my mind it’s simple.  It means adopting a system, a process, a software package or an approach to your team that enables one of the following to happen:

  • Do the same job in less time.
  • Do a better job in the same time.
  • Or, the Holy Grail, do a better job in less time.

Adopting the latest software should create an immediate and obvious advantage.  Developing replicable systems will improve consistency and timeliness, regardless of who is operating them.  Knowing what is important in your role should enable you to allocate time in your diary to be certain of giving yourself time to think, make decisions and take action to deliver.  If the systems run your business, you must enable your people to run the systems.  It is then left to you to lead your people.

Just remember, you get what you focus on.


Rowing the Atlantic.  Miriam Payne

Can you imagine setting out to row 3000 miles across the Atlantic on your own?  Miriam and a friend decided to do just that soon after graduating from Newcastle University.  Their experience at the time of the decision was to have raced with the university boat club on England’s inland waterways.

They set about raising the money to buy their boat, a specialist hand built craft, and developing the skills and endurance to spend up to 80 days rowing 15 hours every day in extremely variable conditions to reach Antigua from the Canary Islands.  Unfortunately, Miriam’s rowing partner fell chronically ill before the race so Miriam had to fight the ocean on her own.  How’s that for an unwelcome change in circumstances?

Despite the isolation, variable winds and currents and spending Christmas at sea, Miriam rowed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in a record time for a single woman.

The lessons she said she learned are these:

  • Set the goal – then figure out how.
  • Give yourself constant interim goals to achieve.
  • Have courage in the face of adversity.
  • Appreciate the little things (like a special tinned Christmas dinner)!
  • Develop unshakeable resilience and just power on.

Interesting parallels with Jamie Peacock!