“Leadership is a set of behaviours, not a job or title,” says Chris Quin, chief executive retail at Telecom. There are plenty of people in management who may or may not be leaders.
Quin applies three metrics to measure leadership. The first is whether he is making a difference in the role. The second is clarity – giving a sense of direction, and what this direction looks like. The third is taking action; this is when you can stop making PowerPoint presentations, make a decision, and go do something, he states.
“Individually have I done those three things today, did I do leading or just turn up?” he asks.
Raymond Dobbe, director, World Moving and Storage, says leadership involves constant learning, and being fully aware of what is happening today and in the future, both locally and globally.
“New Zealand is a part of the world,” says Dobbe. “It’s about being aware of what’s coming and how that’s going to affect your business five years from now.”
Like Quin, Dobbe highlights the importance of “setting direction” and “making the ultimate decision” for the organisation.
Lead by example
Leading by example is a key theme tackled by Sachie Nomura, founder of Sachie’s Kitchen.
She says she grew up “watching my parents’ back and learned how they behave around other people, how they treat people and show appreciation”.
She is cognisant her staff watches what she does, so it is important to “lead them by example”.
Quin concurs, saying whatever senior people in the organisation say or do has an impact on the culture in the organisation.
Authenticity is important, says Quin. “You can’t lead if you are not sorted out as a person.”
“Most good leaders are authentic,” he says. “It is hard to represent a company, sport or organisation you don’t believe in.”
At the same time all leaders have weaknesses, says Quin. “No one has a 360- degree collection of capabilities”.
Vulnerability, “being able to say I am wrong,” is a leadership trait, he notes.
He also espouses a different way of looking at strengths and weaknesses. “Forget your weaknesses, maximise your strengths,” he states. “To be outstanding develop your strengths.”
Quin concludes by saying leadership is about “connectivity, clarity and action”.
These three attributes differentiate a leader from a manager. The latter controls productivity, he says, like a factory manager who sees to it that the company cuts down more trees every day, and tidies up the place. The leader, on the other hand, climbs the tree and says, “We are in the wrong forest.”
“Leadership has to be the one with the big thinking,” says Quin, and asking, “Are we in the right game?”
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