Tag Archives: Leader

Why Are Australian Retailers turning to the UK for Leaders?

I know what you’re thinking. Surely we have enough great retail leaders on our home turf, right? Well, not according to the facts and figures. The people behind the large supermarkets and major retail stores in Australia seem to prefer the idea of been led by the British. In fact, more and more UK retail executives are being called upon for their services.

Businessman holding in hand a global connection,communications concept

Now, I don’t know about you, but it bugs me a little bit. More than a little actually! That said, we wouldn’t have to look further afield for worthy talent if we had it on our own doorstep. Even Woolworths is believed to be getting in on the poaching action. So, why is this happening?

The reason is that some of the leading UK trained executives have the ability to take an average, or even good, retail store and turn it into a bloody great one. That isn’t to say that Australian leaders can’t do the same, but let’s take a look at why international retail talent is so desirable.

New blood = significant change

According to some of the big retail players, they experience less positive changes when hiring Aussies. However, management and leaders from abroad know how to make the right changes to stay competitive. It’s like a breath of fresh air for retailers that have struggled with strategic foresight and innovation. Many believe that foreign talent also have the edge because they have new unencumbered views.

So – what does that say about us? We’re afraid of change. I don’t understand why, though. Consistency and less change are not going to make you stay ahead of the game. In fact, it will do your organisation more harm than good. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen businesses stay in the shade while others are moving forward in the right direction.

The longer you avoid change, the more expensive change will become. That means you’ll spend more investing in things your competitors have already done. If you ask me, there’s no point in investing in change at all when you’re already too far behind everyone else. You should constantly be investing in change as your business grows.

Think back to 2008 when UK retail executive, Ian McLeod took up the reigns at Coles. His no-nonsense, low-cost strategy was a winner from the get-go. In 2015, David Jones headhunted John Dixon for the CEO role. John Dixon played a huge part in turning around the Marks & Spencer food business, which is an area David Jones were desperate to get into at the time. These are only two out of a countless number of UK leaders who have made their way to Australia.

Take a leaf out of some of the British-trained executive’s books and start delivering global standards and experience. If you don’t, an overseas leader might end up being your replacement.


Why It’s Important to Ask the Right Questions

The problem with many business leaders is not that they don’t know the answer; it’s that they don’t know the problem. When solving a problem, you need to listen to everyone and ask the probing (and often uncomfortable) questions. You’ll know when you’ve hit on a hot topic by the reactions.


The best leaders are curious and are never ones to accept things just the way they are. You may think you ask a lot of questions, but when I ask executives how they know which ones to ask, they look back at me with a blank face. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to change – fast.

How well do you ask questions?

It’s a major part of your job that requires guts and skill. Most of us fall into bad habits from time to time, but excellent leaders are always asking what can be done differently and better. You also need to find the best time to ask probing questions to ensure frank and constructive responses from your team. Knowing how to ask questions that generate thought, focus and action will make a real difference to your success.

Seek out problems

“We keep looking for change in the wrong places, asking the wrong questions, and making the wrong assumptions.” Jim Collins is right. Rather than assume you know the answers and wait for problems to come to you, seek them out for yourself. Change is impossible if you are a rubbish questioner that doesn’t pay careful attention to a candid culture. A vital lesson I learned early on in my career was to seek out problems by asking the right questions. It’s that simple.

Listen and learn

Just because you have experience and a fancy title, it doesn’t mean that you know everything. It especially doesn’t mean that your only job is to boss people around and tell them what to do. When you go about asking questions, you must also genuinely listen to your workers. You’ll find questions thrown back at you. After learning a thing or two, you may even change your mind as to how you answer them.

Practice makes perfect

Always practice asking questions about yourself, projects, plans, and your company. Build relationships and ask what you could do better, how to improve a project and why your organisation does things in a certain way. Having the ability to ask questions that do not trigger a defensive response is a valuable management skill. Think about how you frame your questions in a way that can not only help to improve your success but also your workers’ motivation.

Why You Need to Challenge the Status Quo

Too often I hear “this is the way we have always done it.” I don’t care how you always did it; I want to do it better. In fact, I’ve actually told people that I will fire them if I hear them use those words.

Think differently - Being different, taking risky, move for success in life -The graphic of rocket also represents the concept of courage, enterprise, confidence, belief, fearless, daring,


If you’re only focused on your current success, then you’re foolish. You need to challenge the status quo, rather than stay stranded in your comfort zone. Because that’s what you’ll end up being – stranded.

Always strive for innovation

You never want to become irrelevant in the greater marketplace. Ok, so some traditional best practices may be proven to have positive effects on businesses, but you should always strive for something better. While you may argue that you don’t have the funds to experiment, I can assure you that you don’t need a super-sized budget.

Once you’ve challenged your current state of affairs, progress will depend on you as a leader. Remember, this is an opportunity to change things for the better.

Challenge all the time

“The key to change is first to understand what not to change and then to feel free to change everything else.” Jim Collins certainly knows what he’s talking about. Accept ‘challenge innovation’ and ask questions that require some level of thought to challenge your team’s mind-set. Create questions that spark energy and curiosity, and a safe space where they want to contribute.

Be careful not to sound too critical. Don’t ask “why aren’t we producing this in half the time?” Use motivational speech, such as “what if we could do this in half the time?” and “how do you think we can beat our competitors?” Motivate your people.

Have an open mind

Every brave leader with the guts to take bold risks and challenge the status quo can make a real difference. You need to be passionate about constantly learning and growing, as well as doing the unorthodox thing. With an open mind, you can entice new improvements and inspire those around you to think bigger and do better.

Don’t be afraid to try all sorts of new things and think outside of that bloody box. When something seems obvious, try something different. If you don’t, I guarantee someone else will.

Reward and exploit

Our world is increasingly competitive, and you must constantly adapt, nurture, grow and move forward. Many workers can get comfortable (and stagnant) and be resistant to change. That’s why it’s essential to create an environment where your team feels comfortable with sharing their ideas and have the freedom to express what they believe is and is not working well. I’ve lost count of the leaders I’ve met who don’t take the time to get feedback from co-workers.

Status Quo Roles Chart

From www.forbes.com

Ensure great ideas are rewarded while trusting and supporting them to take the next step. You also need to walk the walk (not just talk the talk) by committing to any change with help from your empowered team.

Being a leader vs. being a boss

Throughout your life and professional career you will come across two kinds of managers – leaders and bosses. It doesn’t matter what level these positions are – the managers that rule, scold and are overbearing are more likely to fail, whilst the managers who lead will be successful. Share a vision that people voluntarily want to follow, and you’ll never have to ‘boss’ anyone.

Being in a management role, you oversee a team of employees performing daily tasks and activities. It’s up to you to resolve any issues, hold employees accountable and make sure that the job is being performed to the best possible standards. The issue frequently found is that managers are ineffective leaders, thus resulting in unhappy employees, jobs finished in a poor/rushed/pressured manner leaving a high turnover of employees.

As a manager, it’s imperative to embody the role as a leader rather than a boss. I’ve previously touched on the book ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins. One of the key philosophies I focus on ‘level 5 leadership’.

Great leaders surround themselves with people who support them in all aspects of their careers. It’s important to encourage and display your values through your behaviors and actions. People are more likely to trust and follow leader’s motives if they practice what they preach, after all actions speak louder than words.

Level 5 leaders blend personal humility with professional will. A leader has great ambitions, but will put the welfare of the business before their own gains. They will find great successors for themselves.

There are many things you should consider to be a strong leader. Instead of commanding and ruling your team, you’re best to encourage and lead them, showing them by example. Listen, speak and motivate them rather than command and terrify. Create enthusiasm instead of fear. Actively take part in activities and tasks as opposed to barking orders at anyone and everyone that will listen. Working alongside your employees allows you to gently approach weaknesses (and utilize and praise strengths) putting you in a position to be able to build up and coach them in these areas. Instead of taking praise & passing blame, fix the problem and give credit and praise where it’s due.

Whilst employees generally respect the boss, everyone loves the leader. Take for example receiving an email from your ‘boss’ – you form a defensive wall, a feeling of danger or agony. However, when you receive an email from your ‘leader’ you’re calm and open to what they’re asking of you or bringing to your attention, resulting in a happier more productive work place and greater lines of communication, thus resulting in a win for both the employee and leader.

As a manager you have a choice, to be good or great. Be a boss or a leader. Next time you go to say ‘I’ change it to ‘we’. And next time you go to say “go”, work on changing it to “Let’s go”. You may think this is only a tiny change, adding a few words into your sentence; however this change of wording makes a huge difference. Being a leader doesn’t require a title, just as having a title doesn’t inherently make you one.