Dr Neslyn Watson-Druée CBE is a business psychologist and Professional Executive Coach. Throughout her vast career, Dr Neslyn has supported CEOs, Directors and Aspiring Directors to excel in their leadership, attain high performance, achieve excellence and transform their business and life with integrity, passion, vision and emotional intelligence. Dr Neslyn led multiple public sector organisations, where she earned her CBE, before transferring to coaching leaders fulltime. She received the award of Women of the Decade in Community Leadership & Social Change from the Women Economic Forum in May of 2017 and has received three recognitions from HRH Queen Elizabeth II throughout her career.
What is something about you that surprises people?
When people meet me for the first time, I’m not often the person they are expecting. People are quick to make assumption about capabilities of older members of the working force but they are always surprised by the way we continue to add significant value. I think people are also sometimes shocked when they hear me for the first time because I have a strong accent. Very early in my career, at about 20 years old I was told that I would need elocution lessons if I want to be successful in my career. I still have my Jamaican accent in my early 70s but also now have three awards from The Queen of Great Britain and The Commonwealth. I think I am doing alright.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by human resilience. How people can pick themselves up from a fall or failure, can learn the necessary lessons and move on successfully. I am inspired by people’s desire to grow, to learn and to recognise that there is a pearl in every human being. It is often my challenge as a Coach to find that pearl and let it shine. I am inspired by nature and the forces of the elements and the universe. I love to be surrounded by nature, beautiful flowers, plants and animals who have such a lot to teach us how to love unconditionally. Finally, I am inspired by younger people and the bountiful flow of information and learning we can gain from collaborating and building relationships with one another.
How has being diverse shaped your leadership style?
I love being a woman and a woman who has been shaped by her Caribbean experiences and values. Through embracing my heritage, I have anchored myself to responsibility, expecting the very best of myself and have a deep and comforting solace in the knowledge that even though times can be challenging, every storm will pass and the sun will shine again. I love being able to think with the heart and feel with the head and my connection to my history enables me to do this more purposefully as a leader.
What does it mean for you to have a commitment to inclusion?
To be able to create an environment for people to shine. Remembering that expectations determine outcomes. Recognising that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and that each person is unique and continually guard against human habits that lower vibrations such as; criticism, condemnation, blame, gossip and judgment.
It is possible to feel you can belong in an organisation?
I have sought to create my own niche and not to be someone who conforms to that which is always expected. I recall a time when I was appointed as Chairwomen of an NHS Trust. There came a period when the trust fell into a large financial deficit of £21.5M. After attempts to move the organisation forward were met with reluctant ears, I took responsibility and cleared the full Board and some other senior managers, restructured the Trust, appointed a new Board and communicated my intention to clear the deficit in two years. The new Board said that it would be impossible to clear the deficit in two years but Neslyn knew that she had to hold the inspiring vision. I asked for the deployment of the new non-executive directors to create a dashboard that I, as a non-financial person, could understand. Systems and structures were put in place and the fiscal deficit was cleared at the end of two years with a £3.5M surplus. This made me realise it is not who you think you are that holds you back, it is who you think you are not. This not only proving that you can create an environment of belonging by surrounding yourself by people that support and respect you but that you can also earn a CBE for doing it.
What made you dare to be different?
My knowledge that I am a being of light and love and all that I need for my growth and development is embodied within me.