9 Tips in 9 minutes with Warrigal's CEO
We sat down with our Warrigal CEO, Mark Sewell, and asked him for his best advice for those looking to be successful leaders of the future. Here’s the wisdom he shared with us:
1. Behave, and even dress, like the person above your role. When you do this, the people more senior than you appreciate you and see your value and often ask you to act up in their roles.
2. Get educated and keep it as general as possible. I started as a social worker but then added graduate diploma in public service management and then an MBA with a major in business law. I got good advice by a mentor to not stay a narrow expert but to become a generalist with broad qualifications and skills.
3. Learn to manage stress and pressure as there will be lots of it. I can recall driving home at times thinking that there is no way I can manage the situation that has arisen at work and that a disaster is about to fall on me and the organisation. Usually after a good night’s sleep, some careful consultation and the passage of time things work through to turn out better than you fear. Simple stress management techniques, trusted advisors and experience over time will help you to become a leader who is calm under pressure.
4. Get a Mentor or at least a mature sounding board. Everyone in a position of significant responsibility needs an independent person they can trust to be a wise sounding board. Not someone who’ll react and defend you but someone who will calmly respond to your issues and guide you through - every good leader needs one.
5. Love the company. This sounds corny but it really helps to do your work, to keep your energy levels up and to bring lots of people along with you as you work together to achieve good results. It’s worth remembering that the only reason you and your team have your positions is because the company needs you. If you can’t love the company and what it does and what it stands for you definitely can’t be its leader.
6. Keep your ego in check. You will achieve almost nothing on your own as a CEO and you will rely more and more on other people and their trust in you and their goodwill to work hard for you. Despite what you’ve heard, no one likes an alpha leader. In fact no one these days likes any arrogance in leadership. Everyone appreciates being appreciated. Be a Chief Encouragement Officer.
7. Remember you will always be on show whether you are on duty or not. All your behaviour, in and out of hours, at work and at home, is ambassadorial. This new media world of transparency and accountability means everything you do or say or tweet reflects on you, on your role, on your team and on your organisation. You’ll have to let go of almost all your personal angry opinions, and that’s not easy for leaders who have lots of them. In fact, I’ll set an even harder challenge, always be positive and good-humoured. Have fun and add a lightness to your responsibilities. People warm to this and the positivity will be really good for you too.
8. The most successful CEOs I have seen have previously been part of management in larger organisations. Consider getting experience in a larger organisation that applies all the management techniques you need then move to a smaller organisation where you will be more senior and not phased by growth and issues that are emerging for the future. It’s hard for selection committees to feel confident in rising stars without experience when it comes to the top job.
9. Finally, wait for your time. See senior management as the long game. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of grey hair and wisdom and decades of experience to steady a ship and guide it to growth.
So there you have it straight from the CEO – and his final words for anyone looking to take on a leadership role?
“The world needs more trustworthy, diligent, clever CEOs so, go for it!”