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Unshackling Leadership
A 360 Exclusive Interview with Sid Sutton

Sid Sutton 8.jpg

The figures are in and the facts laid bare. As a nation, we are staggering under the weight of unprecedented stress – with 91% of UK adults having experienced extreme stress, or pressure, in the last year alone. These are hard hitting stats in anyone’s book. 

 

Sid Sutton’s timely interview, therefore, stands out not just for his professional brilliance, but for its profound message. It’s a narrative that delves deep into the heart of how we lead in times of turbulence & intense pressure. 

 

Sid’s journey began in the structured, strategic world of a top FTSE 100 company. A world where success was measured in figures and forecasts. 

 

But, beneath the sheen of corporate achievement, Sid privately wrestled with a reality familiar to far too many of us. “In 2012, I was at the peak of my corporate career, yet internally I was facing a storm.  I was living a paradox; successful on the surface but internally wrestling with immense pressure. It was in 2013 that I eventually hit burnout” Sid confides, his voice tinged with the honesty & depth of man who’s been through the fire & lived to tell the tale. “Through various guises I’d worked and partied too hard at the weekend. I was stuck in a vicious cycle and I needed out. I needed to live and to work on my terms. It took a while to get it right but, eventually, after a year of garden leave, I found the balance I needed & started my own business. I’ve since represented over 30 other businesses, focusing on their growth and preparing them for exit. I’m operating at the same levels as before, but the difference between now and when I first experienced burn-out, is that I understand myself better now. I know how to find balance. I know what triggers me.

 

In many ways, it was in helping these businesses grow, that I was also nurturing my own growth” he tells me.

 

Tasked with ‘overseeing the effective delivery of Sale’s off-field operations and growing the Sale Sharks brand nationally and internationally’ the transition to CEO of Sale Sharks, one of the UK’s top 12 premiership rugby clubs, in 2019, was a move into a space that offered Sid the opportunity to further develop his leadership skills.

 

Here, he also embarked on a mission to transform the club's culture, focusing not simply on strategy but on mental strength. “I saw these athletes, these warriors on the field and, having been where I’d been mentally, I knew their real battle was going on in their minds,” Sid explains, his eyes reflecting the depth of his conviction. “I could see the opportunity within Sale to create an environment of psychological safety, where players could express themselves rather than suppress themselves. I knew that it was in taking the pressure off the boys, that they’d find the edge both as individuals and as team”. 

 

In this high-stakes arena, Sid applied and evolved his leadership skills. The locker room, the training sessions, the moments before a match – these became spaces for fostering resilience and mental agility. “Each game became a lesson in human psychology & in understanding the core of human performance,” Sid reveals, painting a vivid picture of his unique approach to leadership.

 

“Everything I do now is focused on unshackling the chains that we all work within and on optimising our lives and our performance. That's my whole purpose” he explains.

 

On his decision to create the digital community ‘Out of Office’ after leaving Sale - “it was a response to a growing need for mental health support among leaders. The power of vulnerability and shared experiences in leadership should never be underestimated,” he shares, emphasising the need for empathy and connection.

 

Sid Sutton’s narrative is far from a linear tale of triumphs. It’s a collection of moments – intense, reflective, triumphant – that show his commitment to understanding and nurturing the human spirit. “There were times when the weight of leadership felt overwhelming. But those were also the moments that taught me the most”.

 

Sid’s story speaks to the heart of what it means to be a leader today - a time when success is inextricably linked to well-being and resilience born from vulnerability. “My story is about bridging the gap between mental strength and professional success, and it’s about leading with empathy,” Sid concludes.

 

In Sid Sutton, we find a man whose professional accomplishments, personal insights and vulnerabilities, present a journey that redefines leadership. It’s a journey that is as human as it is inspiring. And it’s a journey that, it would seem, is clearly far from over. 

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