After returning to Australia from the US in early 2020, Honan offered me the opportunity to manage its Global Benefits business across Australia and Asia.
Not only did this represent a chance to progress my career, but to take on a new and exciting challenge in leadership – a realm I was yet to experience.
In navigating this new chapter, I asked myself – and often others – what does it take to be a good leader? There’s no shortage of books, articles and research dedicated to this very question, but what helped me most in shaping my response, were the leaders who stood before me, the colleagues beside me, and the team around me.
Over 2020, and the last six months in particular, the collective experience, ideas and dedication shown by my team for their work, led me to many ‘a-ha’ leadership moments, the following five being most powerful:
- Jump in headfirst and get your hands dirty – understanding every component of a business unit is so important, no matter how small.
- Be ambitious, not for yourself, but for the company – serving a greater cause will keep you moving forward.
- Speak less and listen more – listening to your team’s needs and ideas, and integrating these with my own has been vital. Everyone has knowledge, skills, and experience to contribute. Team trust, openness and flexibility is key.
- Empower those around you – a culture advocating for the safe taking of risks for the advancement of the business fuels innovation. Psychological safety is paramount here.
- Ask ‘why’, and challenge if there is a better way – improvement is a journey.
Leadership is a lifelong quest. I’m still learning on a daily basis and fine-tuning my definition of what a successful leader entails in a world where the needs of individuals and businesses are continually moving.
The leaders I’ve most admired throughout my career have inspired me to never stop learning, to approach each challenge with openness and curiosity, and strive to inspire others to do the same. Ultimately, forging success should be about working together to make a positive difference.