with greg layton

The Inner Chief is for leaders, professionals and small business owners who want to accelerate their career and growth. Our guest chiefs and gurus share powerful stories and strategies so you can have more purpose, influence and impact in your career.

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In this episode you’ll hear from Jonathan Ling, CEO and MD of GUD Holdings Limited and how a little Chinese boy rose to top of the corporate world and succeeded in tackling the most difficult challenges in business.

Jonathan is also the former CEO of Fletcher Building and Visy Recycling. He is the Chairman of Melbourne Rebels Advisory Board and has previously held a number of other board roles including ASB bank and Pacific Brands.

During his time as CEO of GUD the market capitalisation has grown from $360 million to $1.2 billion and the share price from around $5 to in excess of $13. And during his time as CEO at Fletcher Building market capitalisation grew from around NZ$2.5 billion to NZ$4.8 billion.

Jonathan is a fantastic story of a little Chinese boy that rose from the frontline all the way through the ranks to becoming CEO. He has taken on some of the biggest challenges in business and succeeded both commercially and through the culture he has created.

Key Points:

Jonathan outlines that “to get ahead you must tell wow stories” and that you must have three key skills to be CEO; 1. The ability to innovate, 2. The ability to lead a group of people to something beyond what even they though possible, 3. Know how to truly make money.

Jonathan’s top messages include:

  1. 1/3 of MBA graduates are better for it, 1/3 makes no difference, 1/3 come out worse because they’re expectations of what will immediately happen as a result of having the qualification exceed reality
  2. Running your own business gives you a very different perspective on:
    • risk and what you're willing to take
    • how to stand out from the crowd; and
    • that you have to have to courage to take risks, calculated risks.
  3. Some people more successful than others because the tell ‘wow stories'. How many people have you met in meetings that you just don't remember? People have done something that is ‘wow’, or said something is ‘wow’, that is who you remember
  4. In telling stories the key is that you've got to want to stand out. The first thing is the desire and the courage to take the risk to be different. If you're doing what everyone else does you don't stand out. You have to be willing to put your head above the parapet and take a shot at it.
  5. One of the skills that you don't see that often, is the ability to make money. I've never had a shareholder say, you're making too much money, slow down
  6. The only three things I'm looking for is – are you innovative, can you make money, can you inspire people
  7. Leadership is the ability to inspire people to achieve something far greater than even they thought possible. And when you do that the feeling is just magical.
  8. For those that have hit a glass ceiling, are you pulling the right levers? Are you pulling the levers that will make a big difference. There are three key levers:
    • Do I have the right people in my team? The talent, intellect and drive
    • Do I have the right culture? The collegiateness, work ethic, risk appetite and how they manage conflict
    • Does my team have the right tools?
  9. Once I change my beliefs, when I come back to a problem you'll see it in a different way. Its actually the notion of learning. You can do this by creating emotional intensity in the team, both positive and negative that is good for the team. And how do you manage it so it doesn't get personal.
  10. Three big levers – the right people, the right culture, the right tools. You get those three things together and it is amazing what a group of people can do.
  11. You've got find out what drives you, then you find out how you can harness it and then you have to figure out how to harness that for others
  12. Political correctness is at the other end of the spectrum to authenticity
  13. Hold a whole conversation with only open questions. E.g. What do you think about? how do you feel about? how did you come to this conclusion?
  14. If you want to get really good at something, find someone who is really good or world class at it and go and work for them and learn from them. If you’re going to be a CEO you have to learn how to make money. Go and find someone that you think is probably the best moneymakers available and go and work from them. I am against generalist mentors. Find specific mentors for specific purposes.
  15. Most successful people I've met have an inquiring mind. To get the most of your mind there needs to be lots of stimulus
  16. My leadership style has always been about working through others to get outcomes.
  17. If you're the boss and you’re running flat-out and then someone wants something more from you, you've got nothing to give
  18. Distraction is the source of all waste (for middle managers). Learn to differentiate between what the urgency and importance in prioritising your work. (See Covey’s Quadrants below)
  19. If you find your meetings are going too long make everyone stand up. They'll go for half the time.
  20. One question you should ask yourself everyday: “Am I creating the right stimulus to get me to the next place I want to be?”

Nominated Charity:

Jonathan’s nominated charity is Team Rubicon Australia and I’ve made a donation of $250 in Jonathan’s name for coming on the show. http://teamrubiconaus.org