A great man is one who leaves others at a loss when gone.

"Know your stuff, get a great team, keep calm but energetic, and don't be a dick... Aspire to that, Jude, and you won't go far wrong" – Liam Black pays tribute to Stephen Lloyd. 

Dear Jude

"A great man is one who leaves others at a loss when he is gone." (Paul Valery)

Driving along the other day mulling and I thought, "Ooh I must run this by Lloydie". But the next second that cold realisation that Stephen was dead. That we've lost this champion of social change and a world class legal entrepreneur still hasn't sunk in. He pulled me out of any number of legal scrapes (good manners but mainly legally binding paperwork mean these will have to remain under wraps). 

The number and heartfeltness of the things written and said about him since his drowning is evidence of how much he was admired and loved. 

As a young leader, Jude, there is much you can learn from the example of this great man too soon gone from us: 

1. Know your stuff

Stephen was always brilliantly well informed and all over a brief. He wore his knowledge, expertise and insight very lightly and, when he was sat beside me with some truculent blowhard on the other side of the table, I always knew Stephen would nail it. 

Stephen's kind of mastery only looks easy when you've worked very hard at it for a long time. 

And into his 60s he remained an innovator and I loved his boyish delight dealing with whatever conundrum or mess I dropped in front of him. "So, Liam what have you been up to now?". 

2. Assemble a great team

The number one job of a leader is to create a culture of high performance executed by a great team. Stephen certainly did that and I can't think of one of his people at BWB who I reached out to over the years who wasn't hugely talented and easy to work with. What a legacy he leaves in the company of people he helped assemble. 

3. Don't turn crises into dramas

His calmness under fire was legendary and to have him in the room was to immediately turn the temperature down significantly. Get the data and facts and put emotion and reaction to one side. He helped teach me that. Perhaps it was his cycling which helped calm him down between meetings.

Stephen's kind of mastery only looks easy when you've worked very hard at it for a long time. He was a true leader – aspire to that, Jude, and you won't go far wrong.

4. Keep life and energy going through your networks 

I last spoke to Stephen two weeks before his death. It was a quick call to rearrange a lunch date. A meal that would never happen. The randomness of life. 

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, said: "The good relationships and alliances you create define your mutual ability to be effective."  Stephen knew the power and importance of managing his networks and he was great at it. It was clearly good for business but you never felt played or upsold. 

He was, in his cups, hilarious and could be shockingly vulgar. I like that in a person. 

5. No need to be a dick

Stephen was one of the best leaders of an organisation I've met – and I've met many. He was a true leader – people want to follow him and be like him. No macho posturing, no 'I'm the most important guy in the room" bullshit (fairly common amongst too many senior partners in City professionals firms). Humility, calm, and a relentless curiosity and willingness to help those younger and junior to him. Outstanding. Aspire to that, Jude, and you won't go far wrong. 

Farewell, Stephen. 


Liam Black is co-founder of Wavelength. Contact him via thesamewavelength.com or via Twitter