Having had hundreds of discussions with high level individuals about their own personal leadership styles, Matthew Evans wanted to explore in more depth the theme of Leadership and what has moulded some of the key industry leaders into the person they are today. Learning from some of the standout individuals that he has gotten to know over the years, how they got to where they are, what makes them tick, and where they get their inspiration.
This week Matthew spoke to Nigel Mapp, CEO and founder of MAPP, a thriving property management business established since 1998.
How are you motivated to keep leading the business as you do?
Because I really enjoy it and because there is a real purpose at the heart of what we do. There aren’t many days that I don’t look forward to, in fact, I could count on one hand all the days I haven’t enjoyed in the past 25 years. That’s quite a thing, a rarity, and a real privilege. It’s mainly the people, the clients, the 420+ people we employ and the characters I meet along the way.
It’s also fascinating to be involved in the sector. Property Management is changing and developing so quickly. Things that we’ve been talking about over the last two decades are really at the point of happening. The industry is moving away from the stereotypical, feudal “Landlord vs Tenant” relationship to a new Provider and Customer relationship. The whole occupier engagement piece is huge and really adding value as we work with clients to attract and retain occupiers.
The impact we can make on driving the sustainability agenda and the impact we can have is huge. In a ‘normal’ week (well what used to be classed as normal) over 150,000 people work or visit the buildings we manage each week) and the amount of waste we can intelligently deal with and the procurement of utilities and supplies across a portfolio of 850 buildings is massive.
How much of the modern MAPP is in your personal image?
Probably more than I think.
My colleagues would say that the business feels very much like Nigel’s vision and that my personality has influenced the culture but operationally they run it and they do a great job!
The commitment to excellence as opposed to scale is still core and very much me. I would always choose to run a smaller business that delivered excellence as opposed to a large business that delivered something that was just OK.
We are now a big grown-up business, but I think we have been able to remain agile, authentic, accessible and continue to have some fun along the way.
What’s your biggest short-term challenge?
We’ve grown by about 130 people during the pandemic – that’s over a third of the workforce who I’ve not met in person, who have never stepped foot inside our offices and have never attended a real client or team meeting. We will need to do a huge piece of work when we do get back to some level of normality about culture, value, vision, training, and leadership. If we don’t, they will not get us, understand our values, or feel the MAPP vibe.
We also need to remember the 290 others who will return. We need to get to them all and help them transition back into what we used to call normal. Some will be fine with that, but some have been through a lot and there will be some challenges.
You have some of the biggest personalities in the sector on your senior team, so how do you balance that?
You are right about that.
My leadership style is to let them go and flourish. People at a senior level should never be micromanaged, you need to just let them be who they are and deliver what they are great at doing. They are a great team and it’s both humbling and a real privilege that they have decided to come and join us.
As a Leader you’re very visible, you’re in London most days. Do you have days when you go home and feel like there’s an incredible amount of pressure? How do you deal with that?
David [Clein] and I share the pressure. He’s a very different character to me, which complements and balances us.
I have always worked very flexibly over the years – largely mirroring how everyone has worked during the pandemic albeit that I am as you say in London a fair bit. With 24/7 connectivity you either need to be disciplined at switching off (and I fail miserably at that) or do something that means you have to switch off. Doing some exercise, climbing/skiing down a mountain or a round of golf all play their part.
What else helps?
Negroni’s and red wine – although in the first few weeks of the first lockdown I did not drink a drop! I was so busy working it all out, advising clients, sitting on various industry wide bodies, and trying to figure out what it meant for our business that I just did not have time, I don’t think I ate much either. It was a crazy time.
Delegation. Apart from David (who really does not report to me), I have two other direct reports – my PA who helps keep the show on the road and our Head of Marketing, Branding and Comms – something I have never managed to delegate.
I also think keeping things in perspective helps. Yes, what I do is important and being responsible for £13.2bn of real estate and for 420 employees and their families does focus your mind but it cannot become all-consuming. There is so much more to life than Real Estate, Property Management and MAPP.
Is there something outside the business world that’s helped you or others around you get through difficult times?
My work with Resurgo helps with the perspective and has taught me so much. I have been involved since its inception and it’s been a real privilege to be part of a team that has helped transform the lives of so many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Working with CRT we launched Love Your Neighbour to support people during the pandemic. What started as an emergency food bank in London as a response to the Covid-19 crisis, has quickly evolved into a huge network delivering over 7.5 million crisis meals, debt advice, employment support and other provision to help people most in need.
My Christian faith underpins everything I do. It’s probably at the root of my approach to pretty much everything from business to people to putting that much-needed perspective into life.
Who’s your hero?
Ernest Shackleton – simply for the leadership and tenacity he displayed, when dealing with a real-time disaster whilst leading the Trans-Antarctic Expedition. After his ship, Endurance, was destroyed by ice, he led his men from the disaster, spending months navigating Antarctica, before arriving safely in South Georgia. His strength and perseverance ensured that his whole crew survived.
Do you have a book recommendation?
On a similar theme – the book would be The Worst Journey in the World. It is a 1922 memoir by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, detailing Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole in 1910–1913. It discusses the difficulties of the expedition, the causes of its disastrous outcome, and the meaning of human suffering under extreme conditions.
As the leader of MAPP, how do you want your legacy to be remembered?
Every quarter we hold a welcome session where we talk about the company vision and values. We talk about our three core values – delivering a great service, being a great place to work, and doing it all sustainably. It is essential that everyone who comes to work for us gets and understands those three core values as they guide pretty much every decision we make.
At one of those sessions, a new employee at MAPP asked me pretty much the same question – she wanted to know what I wanted my legacy to be when it was my time to retire. Instinctively I said, that when it was her time to retire, and she came to reflect upon her time with MAPP, that she would say that it was the best place she had ever worked at – that we were authentic, passionate and full of integrity
So, if everyone else who worked for us felt the same way, that we were able to change a much-maligned sector and transform it into an experiential customer-focused area of real estate and help the planet and a few people along the way that would be a good start.
To discuss this article in further detail, or to find out how Matthew can help you and your business needs, get in touch today.
Want to read more? Have a read of some of the other interviews from this series:
- Motivators of Leadership with Rob Bower, Managing Partner of Montagu Evans.
- Motivators of Leadership with Kate Still, Founder, CEO, Executive Coach and Board Advisor.