Is culture really that important? With James Timpson, CEO of Timpson 

March 5, 2024

gunnercooke has released the latest episode of The Inspiring Leadership Podcast, hosted by Co-Founder Darryl Cooke. 

The series delves into the minds of inspiring businesspeople, to learn from the very best, and to understand what makes a great leader. Insights include recipes for success, behaviours to model and practical tips from some of the best business leaders, most successful coaches, and the world’s most influential thought leaders. 

In this episode, Darryl is joined by James Timpson, CEO of Timpson Group, since 2002 and the fifth generation of his family to hold the role. James is passionate about advocating for the employment of ex-offenders and is the Chair of the Prison Reform Trust. He is also a former Trustee for the Tate and is Chancellor of Keele University. James has recently launched his book, ‘The Happy Index: Lessons in Upside-Down Management’, which helps leaders re-evaluate how they manage their business. 

James discusses what the Happy Index is and what success means to him. He shares what he believes makes a good leader and how your employees should be central to your leadership style. He goes on to talk through the culture at Timpson and how that has been cultivated, as well as his extensive work on prison reform. He talks through hiring ex-offenders and how they seamlessly fit into the company.  

Timpson’s is synonymous with great work culture, on this James said: “We are on culture the whole time. We talk about culture and we do culture more than anything else, even now. We haven’t invented culture but we’ve put it into our own language and made it work for us.” 

James is passionate about keeping his staff happy and said: “rather than focusing on finance and margins and marketing plans and all the other things, just focus on colleagues being happy and everything else seems to sort itself out.” 

James is known in the business world for being an inspiring leader, and when asked about his leadership style he commented: “I don’t feel like I’m leading for myself, I’m leading for my colleagues. I see too many leaders who are in it for themselves, they’re in it for the short-term gain and they’re trying to make as much money as they can. They don’t really care who they tread on. I want my colleagues to shine and I think that’s what leadership is – it’s about the idea that you are no more important than anybody else in the business.” 

To listen to the full podcast visit Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Previous guests of the Inspiring Leadership Podcast have included Joanna Swash, Dr John Blakey, Paul Hargreaves, Vikas Shah, Hassan Damluji, Alison Grade, Sir John Timpson and Roger Lane Smith, who discuss how to have integrity in business, the importance of mindset, the balance of process and innovation, and how CSR drives a business forward. 

Darryl is welcoming inspiring leaders who are making a difference in their business or community to join him for future episodes. Get in touch to recommend a guest. 

Read more insights from our guests in gunnercooke’s business magazine for good, The Reading Room.