On Emma Littmoden’s road to the top, you’ll find some loo roll, wet wipes and a jockey’s uniform.
Before becoming sales and business development partner at leadership development provider The Living Leader, Littmoden had earned her sales spurs selling hygiene products and been one of the top five female amateur jockeys in the country.
In true Victor Kiam ‘I-liked-the-shaver-so-much- I-bought-the-company’ style, Littmoden decided to join The Living Leader as a trainer after experiencing the personal leadership programme for herself three times and finding it an invaluable aid to her own career development.
“It gave me an understanding of who I was and how I felt about things,” explains Littmoden. “It made me understand and believe in myself and what made me do things and question whether I was doing things for me, or because I cared about other people’s opinions. It also gave me a good understanding of how we communicate with people and about responsibility.”
Her highly successful career in sales started in coffee machine ingredients before jumping ship to Kruger Tissue where she sold loo rolls. The company kept giving her terrible areas to work, and then she’d turn them round and they’d give her another terrible area, where the process would be repeated.
A few years later, she was headhunted by industrial wet wipe supplier Allied Hygiene in a national sales manager role. She worked hard and did extremely well. Her initial sales target of £200,000 had mushroomed to more than £1 million by the time she left Allied Hygiene.
She saw first hand how attending the personal leadership course changed the way she managed staff.
“My relationships with clients were transformed and, as a result, my sales performance improved significantly,” she remembers. “However, it was my role in leading my team that was impacted more. I began to want to inspire my team to take responsibility for more than just their own sales results – I wanted them to understand how we were all leaders within the organisation, it wasn’t about having the job title, it was an attitude and a way of being. When I realised the impact this was having, I decided that this was a philosophy I wanted to be part of sharing with others like me, so I became a trainer of the programme.”
She had been earning good money, but she had reached an impasse with the company – the four directors were not going anywhere and there was no more room at the top.
“After running programmes for a couple of years, my passion was heightened and I trained to deliver the masterclass, which means training others to deliver the programme. It was whilst working with other trainers and delving into the elements at a much deeper level that I was inspired to follow my dream of race riding,” she says. “I have always been an avid rider but had been talked out of following this as a career when I was young, but the dream had never left me.”
She was able to realise that dream when she met her husband, whose business was training racehorses. She decided to work full-time with him training racehorses and at the same time pursue her dream of becoming an amateur jockey.
So at the mature (at least in jockey terms) of 30 she ran her first race and became one of the top five amateur lady jockeys in the country.
It was a busy time for the business. The number of horses they trained expanded from 80 to 120 and they were constantly attending race meetings. But it was also glamorous and exciting, involving trips to the likes of Hong Kong and Canada to attend race meetings.
Becoming a mum changed her outlook entirely, however. She did get back in the saddle afterwards, but no longer felt the same hunger to fight for the gaps that she had been before her daughter arrived. So, two years ago, she decided it was time to banish the “baby brain” and she got back in touch with The Living Leader and works there now in a sales role part-time.
Littmoden is the living proof that a timely leadership training can make a huge difference both professionally and personally. But she bemoans the lack of training most managers are given in their jobs.
“People get promoted on a Friday and go back into work on a Monday and yet nothing has happened to change them into a manager over the weekend,” she says. “They are thrown into it and it’s only three years later do they think they should go on a management course.”
Who do you admire most and why?
Penny Ferguson, the founder of The Living Leader, for her confidence to challenge and inspire people to perform at to their full potential – a skill I really want to develop.
What’s your most hated buzzword?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Find out what you love doing – then get someone to pay you to do it!
How do you relax?
Cycling – though a skiing injury to my knee earlier this year and then breaking the same leg just a few months ago in a horse riding accident, has temporarily brought cycling ambitions to a standstill.