Humility, Humanity, and Win-Win

The numbers of people Claire Mann serves in her work are staggering in their scale. But this week, Claire discusses with us how she focuses on the individual— both when it comes to how she can improve herself and how she can serve each person who rides the public transportation systems she’s helped lead and reinvent.

Episode Notes

Humility, Humanity, and Win-Win (ft. Claire Mann) –How seeing the weaknesses in yourself and the strengths in others makes you a better leader 


“People don’t expect you to be perfect, I mean not just as individuals, but as businesses. I don’t think anyone expects my railway to be on time every single day, but when it’s not, all they ask for is good information, support, compassion, and empathy.”

—Claire Mann


Claire Mann started her career as a customer services assistant on Heathrow Express, the high-speed line from London to Heathrow Airport, where she became a train driver, then moved through a series of roles in a largely male-dominated rail industry. She eventually made her way into the C-suite as an operations and safety director before entering the distinct world of the London bus network, helping ensure that 11,000 buses and 2.1 million passengers reached their destinations every day. In 2020, she became CEO of South Western Railway, covering long-distance and commuter routes into London with over 200 million journeys per year.

Follow Claire: LinkedIn


[7:01] – Getting the Best From People

Claire’s equation for inspiring optimal performance

Claire is a believer in clear direction and honest feedback, combined with the support to do what people need to do in their given roles. She makes a point to speak to every member of a team she meets with— not to put on a show, but because she believes that to get the best from people, you need to talk to and listen to those people.

[9:25] – Turning Over the Pyramid

Start from the Bottom-Up

Without the people on the frontline of your organization, you would have no organization— especially during the COVID era. Forget pyramids of hierarchy and focus on supporting, respecting, and responding to the needs of your frontline people and watch how your organization is transformed for the better.

[19:26] – Start with the Right People

The customers don’t care about process, just result

The best commute is the most forgettable one. Do people like Claire feel disheartened by this? Of course not— they hire the best people and empower them with the best resources to give customers exactly what they’re looking for. After all, customers don’t care about the heroic lengths you’ve gone to serve them— only that your product is what they expect and hope it to be.

[24:22] – Maintaining Lessons Learned in COVID

How to avoid falling back into old habits

While COVID has been a devastating tragedy for lives, families, and economies worldwide, it did force organizations to transform the way they meet and interact for the better. Now the key is to avoid slipping into the old ways of unnecessary meetings and rigid work structures.

[33:47] – Stop Looking for Superhumans

Don’t create roles that only a superhero could take on

Claire emphasizes the importance of avoiding work roles and job listings that would require someone with otherworldly talent and capability to execute. If you’re looking for a superhero to fill a role, you’d probably be better off splitting that role’s responsibilities among multiple parties.



Chris Roebuck
Chris Roebuck
Chris Roebuck is a speaker, advisor and executive coach who has a unique approach that helps leaders, teams, and organisations reach their full potential and be successful in just three steps. This is proven to add investor value, deliver better customer service, build the brand externally, develop innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, optimise risk and boost the bottom line by 10% + at no cost. Chris unique experience as a leader in the military, business, government and as a Hon Visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership has enabled him to develop this innovative, entrepreneurial and highly effective new approach for leaders and organisations to achieve success: I CARE Leadership. It’s simply about you being the leader people always give their best for empowered by authentic and inspirational servant leadership. Chris shows how building on leaders current knowledge via simple, practical day to day actions can immediately deliver real improvements at all levels; individual, team, and organisation. One organisation who implemented it increased the number of staff happy to recommend it as “a great place to work” to friends or family in 2 years from 40% to 82%, an exceptional change, and increased revenue by 40%. When Global Head of Leadership at UBS, 70,000 staff & 100 countries, his team helped the bank transform organisational performance to increase profitability by 235%, market capitalisation by 50% and win awards. This is now a Harvard Case Study. Chris experience spans many sectors and geographies; from having held senior roles in UBS, HSBC, KPMG & London Underground to advising legal firms and construction, from the UK National Health Service of 1.4m staff and UK Government to the Red Cross in Myanmar, from Investment banks in London to Middle East Telecoms, from the Chinese Space Programme to retail in USA and many more. Chris has been quoted as a business leadership expert globally in the Harvard Business Review China, FT, Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, New York Times, Business Week, Time Magazine, Washington Post, Times of India, Straits & Gulf Times and many other titles. He has been interviewed on TV over 350 on leadership and business issues on BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and other channels and his books have been translated into 11 languages. Chris has been recognised as one of the Most Influential HR Thinkers regularly since 2011 by the HR profession.

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