“There’s one cardinal rule of coordination, which is, everybody thinks coordination is a good idea, but nobody wants to be coordinated. So you have to persuade everyone that coordination is not only a good idea; that it actually delivers real benefits in reality. The key thing is that if you put the people at the centre to what you are trying to do, then you all come together and try to make it happen. The leadership element of coordination is really difficult, because you have to exercise leadership, but at the same time, you don’t have power and authority over people so you have to exercise leadership through influencing. It’s probably the hardest thing to do, but it’s also quite an exciting thing to be able to do, to be able to demonstrate that you really can do it and bring people together and get them to face in the same direction. “
– Baroness Valerie Amos PC: United Nations Under-Secretary-General
What are your strategies dealing with uncertainty in management?
“My experience has demonstrated that the best thing you can do is actually admit you don’t know. Having the confidence to say that gives other people confidence that you’re aware of your own limitations. The focus then comes not on what you don’t know but how you respond to that. And that’s a really positive way to keep the issue moving forward. Often, in leaders, we can’t expect people to know everything. But we want to give our leaders our confidence where they’ve demonstrated that if they don’t know, they know how to go about actually addressing that situation. The next thing is to really have the energy and commitment to addressing that and finding the answer. And normally, the way that you do that is you then engage with people who you think will know or should know, and you build up a network around you of people that you can go to. And again, you’ve got that energy and commitment for actually seeing the issue through and finding the answer. “
– Sally Capp: Head of Markets, Victoria, KPMG
What is success for an organisation?
“An organisation’s success depends entirely on how fast they can grow and understand the future and grow into that future. If you don’t do that, obsolescence will catch you very fast. So around here [in Silicon Valley], we have what’s called disruptive technology and it’s designed to disrupt. The average leader needs to understand: when is decay visiting us? Is it visiting our products/services? When did we fail to stop growing and watch the decay happen? And that decay is what kills companies. “
– John O’Neil: Author ‘Paradox of Success’, ‘Leadership Alkido’ and ‘Seasons of Success’
What’s your advice for the next generation of leaders?
“You’ve got to be prepared to think the unthinkable now. You’ve got to be less normative in your thinking and your approach and your expectations of power and the flows of information. I think there are serious challenges on the behaviour of leaders particularly through bad moments. And that’s when they’re tested, their reputation, their brand and their value. My message is very clear. You’ve got think of behaviour. The public is going to make up its mind very quickly, and therefore, you’ve got to be seen in that public space, to be talking openly even if it’s a very difficult story you’re trying to piece together still.“
– Nik Gowing: Former BBC Television journalist
What drives leadership?
“Leadership starts with courage. The ability to stand up and not be afraid of having your head cut off. Leadership requires the ability to articulate a mission and to be able to state that in such clear and easy terms that people will want to buy into that. Leadership requires the ability to pick people who are better than they are, to surround themselves with. That’s a very important part. And success is not defined just by cash. It’s what I call psychic income. It’s when you’re on a rocket ship and you feel that sense of, ‘we’re going to the moon and we’re all in it together’. That’s worth a huge amount, because it gets people up in the morning and wanting to go to the office. That requires, on the part of leadership, the willingness to be transparent and the willingness to also be communicative, to create an environment where you can have up and down and sideways communication, very important. And to avoid bureaucracy; I think bureaucracy is the arterial sclerosis of any corporation. In today’s world, where change is coming so rapidly, that’s a disaster.“
– Leonard Harlan: Chairman of Executive Committee, Castle Harlan
What challenges face a new manager?
“Management is a craft. It’s not something you suddenly can do or not do. It’s something that you gradually learn and gradually get better at, and you learn from your mistakes. But if I could give one tip, I would say that empathy is a fundamental human quality. The one other thing I think is absolutely critical about any leadership role, seek to be respected, not liked. You’ll know you’re a good boss when all the people that work for you and with you, respect you. So that should be your goal. Some of them will like you. Others won’t like you. That’s just part of life anyway. If you try and bend your leadership to being liked, you’ll end up not being a successful leader and, as a consequence, generally not being well liked either.”
– Evan Thornley: Executive Chair, Same Business Different Outcome