René Carayol MBE

Expertise: leadership, high performance culture and transformation.
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René Carayol MBE

Inspirational Leadership and High Performing Cultures

René Carayol is one of the world’s leading business gurus specialising in leadership, culture and transformation.

He shows precisely how contemporary leaders can inspire their people through a powerful and authentic emotional connection, to do the things that others said could not be done.

Whilst being a much-acclaimed visiting Professor at the distinguished Cass Business School  in  London,  and lecturing on their MSc in Management, René is no academic.

As well as one of the world’s leading executive coaches, working with some of the Fortune 500’s top CEO’s and their executive teams, he has also actually been Chairman, CEO and MD of blue chip businesses. He speaks with the authority and confidence of the expert practitioner who has seen and experienced it all before.

René specialises in delivering leadership and culture, which show precisely how contemporary leaders can inspire their people through a powerful and authentic emotional connection.

He draws much from his own unique experiences on the boards of some of the biggest international organisations; from Marks and Spencer and Pepsi, to IPC Media and the Inland Revenue.

He is the best-selling author of the leadership and culture bible, “Corporate Voodoo”, and has had the privilege of working closely with some of the world’s best leaders, from former US President Bill Clinton to CEOs of blue chip businesses, including Jim Yong Kim at The World Bank, Ralph Hamers at ING Bank, Mario Greco at Generali and Maria Ramos at Barclays Africa. He has interviewed the good and the great including Jack Welch, Allan Leighton, Lou Gerstner, and Sir Richard Branson.

His latest book, SPIKE is the product of some 30 years of supporting the growth and development of individuals and businesses of all shapes and sizes in the UK and overseas. The book brings together a proven formula for personal and business

In this groundbreaking book, Rene Carayol, leading business guru and executive coach, shares the magic and simplicity of his SPIKE (Strengths Positively Identified Kick-start Excellence) philosophy. In the world of SPIKE, there are no losers – everyone has something they are great at. The product of 30 years of supporting the growth and development of thousands of individuals and organizations globally, the book brings together a proven formula for personal and business development. The vital and essential ingredient of SPIKE is that everyone has at least one inherent strength. Finding and mobilizing those hidden strengths for the benefit of the individual and the team is the ultimate aim of this inspiring book.


Collaboration must become one of the key threads of the culture. Therefore, new recruits need to be team players who embrace collaboration by both attitude and behaviour. There is still a tendency to recruit or appoint the ‘super star’ who always delivers, despite being a self-serving ‘lone wolf’. This must change for true collaboration to work.

By building teams with all members having the opportunity to capitalise upon their differing strengths, this encourages collaboration as nothing is best done alone anymore. The weaving in and out of each other’s talents can be very powerful and energising for all involved.

The Chief Executive and the top leadership team in the business must exemplify the traits of a strong interdependent team. They must be seen to be truly committed to each other’s success. They are the most influential positive role models.

Purpose – Values Led/Performance Driven

Globalization has brought many benefits for the stronger and more forward thinking businesses but it has also brought with it tremendous over-capacity in all sectors. This has made differentiation a necessity.

However, when asked, few people can answer the question “What Are You Great At?”

Increasingly consumers are voting with their values; it has become THE key differentiator. But to ensure a product or person is both genuine and authentic, it is critical to know your brand and your values inside out.

Be it a corporate brand or a personal one, the questions remain the same. Who are you? What are your values? What are your aspirations? What are your objectives? What do you stand for?

Brands are the promise of an experience; if that promise is not authentic and is not kept, the customer’s response can be immediate and severe.

Only once these fundamental questions are resolved can anyone or anything be a sustainable success. In the hugely challenging year ahead it has become strikingly evident that addressing these critical issues is

There are a huge and growing number of extremely talented young people in our world, but the traditional deployment of the hierarchy of business does not always see or allow the most talented people to be at the top of the organisation.

Given the electrifying pace of business today, it’s no longer feasible for the CEO or even the ‘C- suite’ to be on top of everything that is going on in the business. Consequently, they are not always the best initiators of new activity or solvers of today’s problems.

Therefore, progressive leaders will always look to harness the talented people that they can learn from all over the business. They also look to hire employees that can bring something new to the table, and who vitally, believe in the company’s values.

And, to ensure that these gifted people are kept happy, they must be recognized and treated well no matter where these special people lie in the hierarchy.

Disruptive Innovation

Nearly every organisation on the planet has some form of digital strategy at the moment, and this is absolutely the right way to go. However, it must be accepted that the world at large has Gone Digital already. In fact, it has probably gone a little further than that, and has now gone ‘mobile’ as well.

Incremental and Bolt-On strategies are failing badly. The existing power structures in most organisations are inadvertently preventing the digitization of the organisation. Who would not want a reduced cost base, increased customer centricity, enhanced compliance, more speed and agility, reduced manual intervention, better risk management and so much more? Well, the obvious answer is everybody would want this, and this is what precisely digitizing the business will deliver.

Personal Leadership

At the top of the organization, the pressure is high and it drives peak performance. As soon as you are able to tangibly ‘contribute,’ it becomes easier to be treated as an equal. On occasion, things can go awry, and this always requires attention. Strangely, in the more robust atmosphere of a board meeting, it is highly appropriate for these issues to be tackled immediately and directly. It can be extremely uncomfortable, but it is necessary, as the learning and experience at the top of the organization soon starts to trickle downwards. As a board director or senior executive, every individual carries both the burden of responsibility and of leadership. All transformation best starts at the top.

High Performing Cultures/Corporate Culture

Companies that just continue to push products will wither away; those who put the customer clearly at the heart of all they do will thrive.

It’s the culture of the business that provides the key to unlocking sustained and positive momentum. Progressive cultures are fuelled by engaged and inspiring leaders. These leaders tend to be visible, connected and trusted. Their behaviour, values and role modelling are essential fuel for progressive cultures.

The culture—the psychology, actions and beliefs of a group of people—is much more powerful than strategy.

There are two definitions of the kind of culture that creates momentum for any business. The first one is that culture is “what happens when the CEO leaves the room”. The second definition is “the way we get things done around here”. It’s all about the attitude of those working for your company.

The most important thing about culture is that it’s the only sustainable point of difference for any organisation. Anyone can copy your strategy, but nobody can copy your culture. So, why would you leave it untended?

The best businesses are the ones whose culture has grown bigger and stronger than any individual in the team. A strong culture gains power through inspiring your people to conform to it.

Culture is the key weapon of all progressive, high-performing businesses. When employing new talent, you have to be discerning in what you’re looking for. Take attitude over skills every time. Hire for attitude, train for skills. It’s far more beneficial to hire someone with the right, positive mindset who will fit in with the culture of your company, than someone with strong skills and great experience, but an inappropriate attitude.

Diversity & Inclusion

It still appears to be really difficult to “walk in the shoes” of the marginalized when you have never shared their experience. There was a time when the need for diversity had to be explained, educated and proved. Thankfully, that is no longer the case, as today, most people definitely get it. Unfortunately, many are still working on the business case for diversity—that proves that their organization still has a way to go. It is just the right thing to do, no queries or challenges stand up anymore!

As the old saying goes, ‘diversity is being invited to the dance, inclusion is being asked to dance.’ It’s no longer good enough to just be present, and in many respects, even inclusion is no longer enough – today, it’s more about the feeling of belonging. As soon as you feel you belong, it changes the feeling of being different from a negative to a positive.


A focus on business transformation.

Just about every organisation today is endeavouring to transform itself; be it because of a depressed share price, poor profit performance or dwindling consumer confidence.

A ‘state of the nation’ address is needed to highlight what has caused this quasi-recession and what can be done for YOUR organisation.

With incremental improvement and efficiency at the top of everyone’s agenda, every industry is transforming itself through their business leadership.

The traditional model of outsourcing does what it “says on the can” – cost reduction and efficient delivery.

Smart customers are demanding innovation from their suppliers. Smart firms are adopting a strategic view and want access to better talent, better technology and improving analytical capabilities.

It is no longer a question of in or out, but far more about the appetite and ambition for growth.

The future will favour the brave and innovative, and partnering will no longer be just about cutting costs, it will be much more about insourcing transformation, innovation and perhaps providing the “game changer” through access to industry leading expertise that enables business growth.

“My experience of working with some of the world’s best leaders of this generation; from Prime Minister David Cameron, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and many others, informs me that none of them are flawless or ‘all-rounders.’

But they all tend to know their 2/3 SPIKES, and have taken the time and focus to fine tune them to near Olympian standards”.

René will share the magic and simplicity of the compelling SPIKE philosophy. In his world of SPIKE, there are no losers anymore – everyone has something they are great at.

The new world order is struggling to deal with constant uncertainty, René provides a compelling approach to the future that is built on ‘managing a little less and leading a little more.’

You will continue to see René on the BBC and Sky News as an expert commentator and you can see his portfolio of TV series for the BBC on his YouTube channel.

René has built his reputation on getting to know the culture of businesses better than they do themselves, and providing answers and solutions no matter how big or small the problems.

His messages are practical, real life experiences delivered with electrifying effect. He both shakes up and inspires his audiences by showing them not only what lies within their grasp, but how true collaboration makes everyone stronger.



The biggest challenge businesses are facing today is the electrifying pace of change and the uncertainty that brings to everything that leaders are trying to achieve.

René is currently working with some of the world’s leading blue-chip multinational businesses such as The World Bank, African Development Bank, HSBC, TomTom, Vodacom and ConvaTec, advising them on a practical and pragmatic way forward. He has a unique and specialized view of how some of the worlds’ leading businesses are navigating this unforgiving world.

When this is coupled with his quite amazing ability to forecast and predict what will work and what doesn’t in terms of cultural change, makes him the most compelling futurist in the world today.

He uses his captivating storytelling capability to bring these contemporary case studies alive with electrifying effect.

René is unique, in that he always shares his incredibly thought provoking and unforgettable presentation with his audience, enabling then to download it and share with their teams and consequently help change the whole organization.

Given René’s experience as a BBC presenter, he is also available to compere sessions, interview senior executives and run panels in the most professional, business led and unmissable manner.

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