I was recently interviewed for News.com.au on my thoughts on leadership – I thought I would share them here too.
What is the biggest challenge you face/have faced as a leader in Australian business?
At RedBalloon, we work hard to ensure that our employees have a great day at work. Due to this, it can be tough to be taken seriously in Australia, because everyone doesn’t share our belief that a workplace can be a happy environment. There are some people who don’t yet see the value in happy employees and in turn happy customers. People need to feel appreciated, recognised and noticed for who they are and the work they’re doing.
How has your community and philanthropic work had an influence on your capacity as a leader in your field?
When you’re working with volunteers you have no authority; you only have influence. And you can only influence people if they see the value in your contribution and are inspired by your sense of purpose. In a way, philanthropic work is often harder than commercial enterprises in terms of your leadership skills and capabilities. Giving back to the community makes me a better leader because leadership doesn’t come from your job title; it comes from the way you act.
In your view, what is the most important characteristic of a good leader?
The most important characteristic of a good leader is integrity. All leaders need to do what they say they’re going to do. Integrity creates trust, which is essential in any relationship. Without this trust and respect, there will be no followers and to be a great leader you need followers. The one thing I have to ask myself over and over again is, “Did I do what I said I was going to do?” I can’t take shortcuts — there are no shortcuts in leadership.
What is your best piece of leadership advice?
Leaders can be anywhere in our community. They unite the uniqueness of individuals for the good of the whole, and the first step of leadership is to understand what it truly means to be a leader. It’s also important to remember who it is that you’re influencing along the way.