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What started off as an experiment by interviewing a few CEOs has gone gangbusters with tens of thousands of downloads and interviews with 28 Chief and Gurus across all sorts of industries and professions.
It has been one of the most incredible learning experiences of my life. What a privilege and an honour it has been to delve into the backstories and minds of some of the most successful people in our community.
In this episode I countdown the top 5 big lessons from the first year. I picked these ones in particular because more than anything they give me hope. They have inspired me to push myself, to grow and to just be a better human. I hope they’ve done the same for you.
In putting this list together I’ve added a quote from all 28 of our chiefs and gurus. So if you’ve got a favourite keep a lookout for their name and quote.
Counting down from 5 to 1 here are the Top 5 lessons from the last year.
Number 5 – Employ on character and fit and then set the highest standards
By far the greatest stress or blocker to leading a turnaround having a high performance team culture is people that aren’t a fit to your values and goals as a team. The more you employ quality people around you the more success as a team you’ll achieve and the more you’ll be free to look at bigger tasks.
Our Chiefs in particular were hot on this. They had zero tolerance for low performers. It was improve or remove.
CEO of T2 Tea, Nicky Sparshott explained, “It’s important to practice service leadership, which is really paying it forward and recognising that there is no time better spent than in nurturing capability.”
So, learn to hire good people and make this this job the best job they’ve ever had by developing that capability and keeping the standards high. The thing is if you let the standards drop everyone suffers. As Daniel Hunter, CEO of HealthShare NSW said, “If you tolerate poor behaviour from one of your leaders then you're complicit in it.”
And the final point here is to high standards does not mean an environment that is all work and no play. Quite the opposite. High performance teams are fun and challenging.
WaterCorp CEO, Sue Murphy reminded us of that through her timeliness wisdom,“I'm looking for someone with a sense of humour, whose not up themselves, that I could actually imagine enjoying time with.”
This is the thing, if you and your people don’t love your work then everyone will know and you’ll regret your career at the end. “We have to work out what it is that gives us a happy dance.” advised Hetty Johnston.
So, “Employ on character and fit and then set the highest standards” and remember to keep injecting capability and fun into your team.
Number 4 – Grow and Learn throughout your life.
The key principle here is that reading books will always be important, in the words of Jeff Brown, “Readers lead and leaders read!”
However, many of our chiefs learnt in many others ways as well because their load of reading is immense in their role. They tended to learn through three main avenues:
1. Learn through immersion.
Jonathan Ling, formed MD of Fletchers Building and GUD Holding outlined that he rarely even reads book but he spends his time getting immersed in different fields and projects to learn from a whole array of different people. That immersion keeps the energy high and exposes him to different practices and thinking.
2. Join a mastermind.
Nearly half of the chiefs mentioned that they were apart of a mastermind where they met other like minded people that pushed each other to greatness and with big challenges. This was always framed as a way of learning and connecting.
Mitch Matthews made a vital point about this kind of networking and any sort of relationship building, “Stop trying to be interesting and just be interested.” Doing this will free your mind of its own importance and create the space for you to truly learn from others.
3. Get wide ranging experience across the business.
This third principle to learning is critical to rounding out your understanding of how companies work. If you really want to grow then shift sideways for a period and learn the different parts of the business.
In the end it was the decision to keep growing and owning their own growth that was most important:
“If I am not investing in myself, why would anyone else invest in me?” Vivek Bhatia
Number 3 – Make Change Happen and Get Results
Every single chief had a strong track record of transformation. This isn’t negotiable if you want a high impact career and leave a legacy. And in order to build that track record that carried three principles:
“As a leader sometimes you have to break the rules to succeed. If a rule is there to impede you then you have to challenge the rules.” Explained Paul Broad and that ties in with this determination in the face of resistance. Jennifer Holland said “I love the saying today's no is tomorrow's yes”. So there is a ‘fly in the face of resistance' attitude.
John Lee Dumas summed it up with “All the magic happens outside the box when you try and do something different.”
Remember, when you do try and take a new path there will be resistance. It’s the way of things. Don’t be upset by that. You know it’s coming. Just prepare yourself and keep finding new ways to get results.
2. BRING BIG ENERGY AND YOUR A-GAME.
Jim Soorley was one of the most energetic guests we’ve had and one of his go-to plays in getting results was bringing so much positive energy to a room that people jumped on board.
The energy is so important because you have to know your people. And that takes energy. Brad Gordon said, “The people aspect of business is extremely important and you can’t do that from sitting behind a desk.” and Keith Wootton said, “Opportunity. Sometimes it knocks. But sometimes you have to go out and chase it.”
So business requires energy. Energy to make change AND energy to be your best.
Time and again the Chiefs challenged us on if we are working hard and bringing our A-Game.
Daniel Herbert said, “Hard work will beat talent when talent doesn't work hard.” and quite a few asked, “Are you bringing your A-game every single day?”
The chiefs laid down the challenge. Bring energy and your A- Game every single day.
3. KEEP LASER FOCUSED.
One of the greatest challenges in the modern business world is actually doing less. According to Mal Bundey, “A big mistake leaders make I think is there's a propensity of people in leadership roles to try and do too many things. I think focus is key to leadership and a successful organisation. Making choices, is you would love to do some things and you just can't.”
The thing is, every minute you waste is gone forever. And as Kate Erickson, EOFire Productivity Guru said, “You are actively creating your future through the actions and decisions that you’re making right now. So make them count.”
So the importance of taking focused, deliberate action towards the big goal is just vital. You can’t do everything. In fact, doing everything is the enemy of performance. In the end, without focus your performance plummets. Remember,
Peter Knight, our mastery guru coached us as follows, “Actual Performance = Optimal Performance – Distractions.”
So Number 3 on our Top 5 Countdown is “Make change happy by being bold, energetic with your A game and keep laser focus.” If you do that you’ll move mountains.
Number 2 – Build Trusted Relationships
Being bold and getting that track record is vital. But according to Mike Pratt, “What matters more than anything is relationships”.
But we can be all about building relationships without building ones that create trust AND get results.
So here are a couple of vital principles:
- Remember, “Complexity Kills Trust” according to Paul Jones.. What we mean by this is keep your messaging and communication simple and know your customer. The clearer your communications the more people will like and trust you.
- Give without counting the cost. Noel Whittaker said, “I keep putting money into the universal bank and the universal banks keeps paying me back with interest”
- Kill politics. “Political correctness is at the other end of the spectrum to authenticity” Jonathan Ling, former MD of GUD and Fletcher Holdings says. Because politics can create turf wars and internal competition. But what you want as a team is to follow the advice of Trevor Matthew, “Compete aggressively on the outside and collaborate superbly on the inside.”
So Number 2 is build trusting relationships that drive personal and team growth. Politics and compliant relationships will get you nowhere.
Number 1 – Humility and Ownership are THE Way
Humility, ownership and authenticity is not a path to the top it is THE path to the top.
As Kevin Young from our very first episode described is like this: “CEOs are humble but with fierce resolve.” All the chiefs and gurus spoke of a level of ownership of their future.“Change is what happens to you. Transformation is what you do to yourself.” said Geoff Lloyd, and Angela Buglass said, “You must be the creator of your own destiny.”
Also, none of them shied away from the truth. Todd Hunter, MD of Turners Automotive gave some encouragement, “There will be times that you are scared shitless about what you're being ask to to – but pressure is a privilege – and someone believes you can do this.”
And so that brings us to a close. The big 5 countdown and our first year down.
I want to thank you all for tuning in. I never could have known the impact this would have had. It has been the most interesting, rewarding and addictive project of my career.
To close I want to finish with a quote from our Spiritual Guru, Damien Price who summed up what it takes to be a true chief in one beautiful sentence.
“Choose integrity before politics, choose vulnerability before power and trust the resultant inner wisdom.”
That about sums it up Chiefs.
Thank you again for being so encouraging, for spreading the word and nominating so many great chiefs.
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