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Interview with Kul Mahay

Leadership speaker Kul Mahay served for 3 decades in the UK police service – two of those as a leader. His passion for leadership led him to undergo several coaching qualifications and now he has been coaching leaders for over 20 years. Learn more about him in this interview.

What is the most unique experience you have had as a result of your career?


I have had many unique moment, ranging from the most challenging to the most wonderful (I very often find that the latter come from the former). In my leadership role as a senior police officer, I have found myself being challenged in adapting my leadership style very fluidly in fast-moving situations. Many years ago, I was responsible the controlling the policing of a major football match where we expecting a lot of violence from opposing hooligans. I briefed my team of highly-trained public-disorder officers and we formed a cordon at a point where our intelligence had suggested the violence would occur.

I stood apart from my officers so that I could survey the scene and effectively control the deployments. As it happened, however, the violence erupted just a few minutes later exactly where I stood. 400 people fighting heavily exactly where I stood. That was a scary moment for me as I battled single-handedly against anyone near me to resume control. The wonderful thing that happened was that my staff saw this and immediately came to my assistance. They formed a barrier around me as they could see I was tired and we managed to get control.

When I asked in the de-brief why they had done this, one officer replied, “Where would we be without our leader? You had to be protected so we could know what we needed to do to get control once more.” This was a wonderful moment for as it demonstrated that my staff, even in the most challenging of times respected me as their leader.


Who or what inspires you most?


I have many inspirations in my life but the person who inspires me to this day is my grandfather. In India he came from a very poor background. His family had very little. But through hard work and strong values, he built an entire farming estate which he later sold for for housing development which paid for him to come to England. Despite that fact that he could not speak English, he worked hard and was able to bring his son (my father) over from India and this allowed us to be born into a country where there is opportunity for all. My brothers are doctors, my sisters are nurses and teachers and I have had the great fortune of doing all the incredible things I have achieved. My grandfather was the greatest influence in my life. He lived a life of vision, values and hard work ethic. He was a tremendous leader in his own right.


What do you think makes a good leader *great*?


I have always said that the mark of an outstanding leader is not just how good you are but how many leaders you develop.

Great leadership requires a sense of humility, vision and a passion for people that is second to none. To develop others requires us to take away the focus from ourselves and pays in limitless dividends if done right.


What are 3 habits for success?


My 3 key habits for success are:

CLARITY – We need to have a deep level of clarity about what our end goal is. If we don’t have that there is always a danger of meandering through life rather than striding purposely towards the goal.

CONGRUENCY – Everything that we do, think or say should be intentional. It should be aligned with our goals. This is about living life on purpose and with intention instead of giving way to distraction that the modern world can bring to us.

COMMITTMENT – To be successful in any aspect of our life, we need to be absolutely committed. This applies in equal parts across all areas of life – work, health, family, friends, spirituality and wealth.


How much does humor factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?


Humour is fundamental to any great talk. For me, it tends to be at my own expense as I believe it is important to be able to laugh at oneself. I use humour through my speaking whilst ensuring that it is linked to strong learning points. Very often the personal stories I use are peppered with humour.


Describe yourself in 3 words.





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