IOAL's Home Page / Thoughts on Leadership by CEO's & other Leadership Authorities

(A selection of quotes relating to leadership, by various authors)

"Know Thyself", by Mike Gurry, National President of the Australian Institute of Management
Tom Peter's summary of what he's learned over the last 25 years about implementing change
An article from The Center for Servant Leadership, by Tony Lenart

Leadership means getting the best from your people
Leadership means looking after your employees
Leadership requires courage
Developing leadership through self awareness
More thinking on leadership
The value of adding value
Achieving employee satisfaction
Customer service excellence


"I will pay more for the ability to handle people
than for any other talent under the sun."

John D. Rockefeller

Interpersonal Skills Are Rated as More Important Than Technical Skills
- even for Technical Project Leaders

A recent survey found that only 3% of managers or project leaders rated technical knowledge skills as being more important than interpersonal skills.
(69% rated interpersonal skills as more important than technical knowledge skills, and 28% rated them as equally important.)

However, although 90% rated "most project leader's" technical skills as better than (or at least) average;
75% rated their interpersonal skills as just average, poor or very poor."

The survey was conducted by The Center for Management and Organisation Effectiveness in 1996.
(Of the 82 respondents, 55 were Project Leaders and 27 were managers of Project Leaders.
The largest speciality was I.T. or Consulting Engagement Projects, which accounted for 45% of the Project Leads.

The survey results, titled "Why Project Leaders Succeed" also made the following points:*

Most project leaders have been thrown in at the deep end with little or no training being provided. Our guess is that organisations assumed that technical competence and skills would generalise to the skills needed to be a Project Leader. Unfortunately, the organisation probably lost a good technical resource and gained a struggling Project Leader."
The Greatest People Challenges were: Dealing with lack of commitment, lessened sense of mission,
alignment of everyone's understanding and efforts, and accountability by project team members.
85% or greater of the respondents said the following were the critical skills needed to be a successful project leader:
- Listens to others
- Asks questions, to stimulate thinking
- Clarifies roles, expectations
- Establishes trust
- Recognises individual accomplishments
- Develops a sense of teamwork

Top three things Managers-of-Project Leader can do more of:
Support, be attentive, listen, protect, mentor, recognise, reward.
Communicate, work closely, give clear goals, ask question, listen, provide feedback.
Delegate and allow, clear goals, allow trial and error, protect.

Training, training and more training! The preponderance of responses
from relatively new project leaders should underline the crying need for help in:
Interpersonal skills: coaching, team building, establishing trust,
and gaining commitment without the use of formal authority.
Communications skills: with team members (listening, asking questions), peers and managers
as well as presentation skills.
Project planning/managing process skills: Clarifying roles and expectations,
defining goals/sub goals, recognition of accomplishments."

- * Edited by Tony Lenart from

Success Comes With Understanding Human Dynamics

A successful business is one that can deal well with the human dimensions of its affairs

(Board members of global companies are now expected to be versed in a whole range of issues
that don't immediately appear pertinent to running a successful enterprise.)

I am not just talking about the environment and occupational health and safety;
their importance has long been recognised.

Today we get questions about our impact on indigenous cultures, on human rights issues,
on community and employee relationships and on corporate ethics.

Hardly a day goes by that I do not see hard evidence
that a successful business is one that can deal well with the human dimensions of its affairs.

I am convinced that we have to recognise, and consciously combat the danger
that technology and the sheer scale of our operations can come between us and the people whose lives we change.

- Leon Davis, U.K. based Chief Executive of CRA-RTZ,
addressing the Australian Institute of Company Directors' 1997 conference.

How to be an approachable manager

One of the main complaints staff make about their managers is that they are unapproachable.
Managers often don't understand this
because they are always willing to speak with any staff member who asks to speak to them.

However, being approachable means possessing and exhibiting a combination of many factors:

1/ Physical availability
- actually being in the office and able to set aside time to speak with staff.

2/ Energetic availability
- putting your full attention on the person speaking to you.

3/ Openness
- being open to new and different ideas
- and really being willing to see things from another person's viewpoint instead of your own.

4/ A caring nature
- such that staff feel comfortable sharing their private problems, concerns and fears with you
- and demonstrating this sufficiently that all staff (not just those who know you well),
recognise that you will be caring and understanding.

5/ Good listening skills
- exhibiting the ability & willingness to really understand what your staff are trying to say to you
(not just what you think they are trying to say).
- This includes the ability to stop talking, and a lot more as well.

6/ A happy, trustworthy, and (at least a reasonably) loving disposition.
- People don't want to share sensitive and personal information with someone they don't trust
(to keep confidences, and to use what they say in a way that will support the person sharing).
- nor will they choose to speak openly to a sourpuss, a cranky or an angry person.
(Think of the times you wanted to talk with your manager.
Would you have gone into their office if they were looking upset?
Or would you have waited till they looked more positive;
or seen someone else who looked more approachable?)

And the test is not whether you think you meet the above criteria
- its the degree to which your staff think you meet them.
If you think you're a good listener, but people talking to you think you aren't, then they are probably right.

So go ask some members of your staff (one person at a time)
to give you a totally honest, critical evaluation of how well, or badly you meet the above criteria.

And also include feedback from some staff members who are a number of levels below you - and don't know you well.
Because even if you're the nicest person in the company,
but the only people who know this are those who've worked closely with you,
then you'll still be considered unapproachable by the rest of the company.

- Tony Lenart


"My only two passions are employees and customers.
Because if I don't look after my employees,
they won't look after our customers."

- John Chambers, President - Cisco Systems
(A 10 year old company which is now one of the 5 biggest computing firms in the world - providing most of the backbone (routing and switching) to the internet, with a US$184bn market capitalisation (as at 5/5/99).)

Richard Branson's Business Philosophy

People matter ...

Plan and operate the enterprise so as to enable its key assets, its people, to work at their very best. This governs the priorities of the business, its size and style.

Our priorities in managing the business don't appear in most management textbooks or most British companies. We give top priority to the interests of our staff; we give second priority to the interests of our customers; and third priority goes to the interests of our shareholders. This is not only a reflection of the importance of our people, it is also the most positive way of fitting together these three priorities.

Working backwards, the interests of our shareholders depend upon high levels of customer satisfaction, which enable us to attract and retain passengers in the face of intense competition. We know that the customers' satisfaction, which generates all-important word-of-mouth recommendations and fosters repeat purchase, depends in particular upon high standards of service from our people; and we know that high standards of service depend upon happy staff, who are proud of the company they work for. that is why the interests of our people must come first.

We are all familiar with what happens when these priorities are reversed and a myopic enterprise gives top priority to the short-term interests of its shareholders. That sacrifices employee's job security, rewards and working environment and starts a negative chain of consequences, eroding pride, goodwill and enthusiasm. Poor performance by demotivated and antagonised employees erodes service quality and customer satisfaction and in the end the long-term interests of shareholders are actually damaged by giving them superficial short-term priority.

- From Richard Branson's Speech to the Institute of Directors in May 1993, sharing the philosophy behind his experiences running Virgin.

"Hire the right people.
Set the right priorities.
That's all there is to business."

- Lee Iacocca - Former President, Chrysler
at the "World Masters of Business" seminar 7/8/97

Servant Leadership

Robert Greenleaf's essay, "The Servant as Leader"
has "influenced almost all of today's top management thinkers.
His work has been called the touchstone for a good deal of the revolution
in Leadership and Management which is now sweeping
progressive institutions in the United States and Australia." (2)
"The Servant as Leader" tells us that
"The servant-leader is servant first...
It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.
Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead...
The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant
- first to make sure that other people's highest priority needs are being served.

The best test, and most difficult to administer, is:
do those served grow as persons;
do they, while being served,
become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous,
more likely themselves to become servants?
And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society;
will they benefit, or at least, not be further deprived?"

- Mike Nadler, C.E.O, Australian Institute of Management, quoting Robert Greenleaf
Read the full article (from The Center for Servant Leadership's newsletter)

What are we, collectively, able to create?

In the West we tend to think of leadership as a quality that exists in certain people. This usual way of thinking has many traps. We search for special individuals with leadership potential, rather than developing the leadership potential in everyone. We are easily distracted by what this or that leader is doing, by the melodrama of people in power trying to maintain their power and others trying to wrest it from them. When things are going poorly, we blame the situation on incompetent leaders, thereby avoiding any personal responsibility. When things become desperate, we can easily find ourselves waiting for a great leader to rescue us. Through all of this, we totally miss the bigger question: 'What are we, collectively, able to create?'

- Peter Senge

"Current research indicates that the so-called feminine attributes (well exercised in parenting) are the critical capacities required to effectively manage in the emerging democratic cultures of our organisations."

-Sally Helgesen in the Female Advantage: Women's Ways of Leadership

Transformational Leadership: A Self-Development Challenge

On average, women tend to be better leaders than men. I don't want to overly alarm the minority gender, but the characteristics of good leadership these days tend to mirror the attributes normally found in women -- on average. The "feminisation" of leadership means that managers who become better leaders are the managers who adopt the behaviors, attitudes, and attributes, that are normally characteristic of the female gender.

It refers also to leaders adopting behaviors and tactics that emphasise the shift towards collaborative behavior. Terms such as empowerment, open communication, trust, and an emphasis on the "soft" issues of management are characteristic of this pattern. The Industry Taskforce on Leadership and Management Skills concluded that these practices were applicable in most areas of business. The taskforce also concluded that Australian managers of the 21st Century would need to be better leaders and more feminised in style.

Transformational leadership is a popular buzzword, but there are ways that we can all self-develop to become better transformational leaders. And you don't have to be female to do it.

- Ken Parry, Page 30, "Human Resources Monthly" (The official journal of The Human Resources Institute), June 1998

The Two Elements of Leadership

A great manager drives his (or her) organisation and people
with power and passion.
He never lets inertia
(and the concomitant laziness and paradigm inflexibility)
cripple himself or his people.
He settles for no less than excellence.

But the key to his (or her) success is to balance this power, drive and passion,
with empathy (understanding, compassion - dare we say love).
For only through empathy will the work force unite;
working together, communicating fully,
empowering each other,
such that everyone is committed
to the success of the organisation and each other.

Only through empathy is fear overcome.
And fear is the greatest enemy;
the greatest barrier to excellence.

All great managers, all great leaders,all great people,
have mastered and utilise these two energies in balance.

Neither will work alone.

Power alone accomplishes nothing of value.

And if we had empathy alone, without any power,
we would be impotent to achieve anything
for ourselves or for others.

Power and Empathy together
incorporate a harmony, a synthesis, a synergy
of the energies of Male and Female, Yin and Yang,
the Left and Right Brain, and the West and the East.

A leader who leads with power and empathy
leads with his head and his heart.
And in giving all of himself,
his staff give all of themselves
and achieve extraordinary results.

-Tony Lenart


"Don't let people say leaders are born and you are not a leader...
There are skills you can identify that make up good leadership
and you can learn all of them."

- Peter Ritchie, Chairman-McDonald's Australia Ltd. (p34, Management Today, March 1999)

"The key to understanding management and leadership in organisations is understanding yourself as a manager."

If leadership is the process by which our leaders influence followers towards the realisation of shared purposes, then by inference self-knowledge is the essence of being an excellent leader. This includes knowing your personal preferences and management style, questioning your values and ethics, and knowing why you arrived at decisions.
Mike Gurry, National President of the Australian Institute of Management (February 1999 issue of AIM magazine) Read the full article

"Australian managers do not allow themselves the time to develop into good leaders...
Leadership is about searching inwards, and self-knowledge is a precursor to organisation learning."

Attracta Lagan of the St James Ethics Centre in Sydney (From Mike Gurry's article)

- Corporate Transformation

In my experience in leading corporate transformation,
raising the level of individual performance
is a critical element of the change process.
And it is important to encourage increased performance
at all levels of the organisation from the executive suite
right down to the factory floor.

- Gil Amelio - While Chairman and C.E.O., Apple Computer, Inc.


If you want listening, model listening.
If you want risk taking, then take risks.
If you want an obsession with quality, then live an obsession with quality.
This is the biggest breakthrough in the behavioral sciences in the last two or three decades.
It turns out that we learn virtually everything by emulation of peers.
Think of yourself as a model, because you are, for better or for worse.

- Tom Peters
Read the full article

"Understand yourself
and you have taken the first step to understanding others."

- Tony Lenart

What it takes to be a top performing international manager

"In a study conducted by SHL into the performance of international managers, we found that the better managers on overseas assignments were rated by their bosses as having stronger non-authoritarian leadership qualities, greater flexibility, more openness, greater interpersonal sensitivity, better intellectual capacity, more drive and greater vision.

This certainly begs a question or two, because it implies that there are a number of executives in international postings right now with poor leadership qualities, cultural and interpersonal insensitivity, average intellects, authoritarian characteristics, inflexibility, narrowness and a lack of determination."

- Scott Ruhfus, Chairman of Organisational Psychologists SHL. p57 "Company Director" Magazine, Dec 1998

"Those who are unable to change themselves,
are unable to change the world around them."

- Reg Revans

Anytime we think the problem is "out there"
that thought is the problem

- Stephen R. Covey and A. Roger Merrill,
p239, "First Things First", Simon and Schuster, New York, 1994

"Knowing others is wisdom.
Knowing yourself is superior wisdom."

- Lao Tzu

"The only person who is educated
is the one who has learned how to learn... and change."

- Carl Rogers, "Freedom to learn"

Your work is an ongoing, high-level personal development workshop.

"What I find really exciting... is that we have a choice. We can deal with life at work by shutting down emotionally, armouring ourselves psychologically, learning to grin and bear it, or we can choose to see work as an ongoing, high-level personal development workshop where they pay you to attend. We can transform the reality of our world at work by transforming our way of perceiving and dealing with that world.

The wonderful, exciting and unexpected outcome of all this is that when we operate this way, we increase our personal power and become much more effective at what we do. Our relationships improve, our objectives are reached much more quickly and more easily, and we find that the world around us mysteriously improves in a plethora of very tangible ways."

- Margot Cairnes, pp105-106 "Approaching the Corporate Heart", Simon & Schuster, Sydney, 1998
P.S. Margot goes on to give an example of some of the changes that resulted in one industrial plant whose managers focused on transforming themselves and their perceptions: "(The person interviewing me asked what had changed.) I thought for a while and then laughed (and answered). 'Everything. The people, the culture , the systems, the strategy, the practices in industrial relationships, environmental protection, the way they organised their plant, thought about their issues, ran their meetings and related with each other all changed. Nothing remained the same.'" (p106)

Qualities of a great mind

"(If you want to know what a great mind is like,) turn these phrases over in your mind.
Savor their astonishing implications:

* A mind perpetually ready to revolt against its own conclusions.
* A mind prepared not for disbelief (nothing so dogmatic) but for a constant, graceful skepticism.
* A mind that's open to any possibility, including impossibility.
* A mind of democratic hospitality to other views (the present has a thousand eyes, not just one).
* A mind that is profoundly questioning, but buoyantly hopeful.
* A mind willing and able to bring established processes, procedures and, yes, people to judgment.
* A mind easy in the conviction that the verdict on any course of action is brought in, finally, not by Science, not by Reason, not by Technology, not even by public opinion (i.e., market research), but by results.
* A mind that can bear the light of a new day."

James Champy- James Champy, "Re-engineering Management"

The Ultimate Investment

If a man empties his purse
into his head,
no one can take it away from him.

An investment in knowledge
always pays the best interest.

- Benjamin Franklin

Vincit Qui Se Vincit

If you try to be a master of the world,
you're likely to lose yourself.

But if you master yourself,
fully understanding yourself;
then you master the world.
As my school motto stated:
"Vincit qui se vincit"
(He conquers who conquers himself).

- Tony Lenart


"How can we rise above mediocrity if we don't dare to be different."

- Tony Lenart, p61 "Creating Success & Happiness" 1990

"Accept Mediocrity and you have achieved it"

- Tony Lenart, p62 "Creating Success & Happiness" 1990

The challenge of leadership

The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude;
be kind, but not weak;
be bold, but not a bully;
be humble, but not timid;
be proud, but not arrogant;
have humour, but without folly

- James Rohn


Often the difference between a successful man and a failure
is not one's better abilities or ideas,
but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas,
to take a calculated risk
- and to act.

- Maxwell Maltz

In Seeking Satisfaction Yet Running From It

What bitter irony,
to see so many people with great ideas,
who have an understanding of what needs to be done
to create major improvements in their organisation;
yet are too scared to put themselves on the line
for fear that in rocking the boat
they might lose their job
or be passed up for a promotion.

If, instead, we threw ourselves into our positions,
in the same way we would if it were our own company,
we would achieve so much more.

Although we would face opposition initially,
in the long term we would be rewarded for our success.
(In the same firm, or with another
that appreciates our commitment and skills).

And most importantly,
we would enjoy our work.
For we would be creating our own jobs;
instead of our jobs and the politics of the workplace
limiting, constricting, disempowering and frustrating us.

For when we commit to excellence in whatever we do,
we operate at the peak of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Achieving self actualisation
rather than settling for survival.

- Tony Lenart

Striking Out New Paths

If you want to succeed
you should strike out on new paths,
rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.

- John D. Rockefeller

Do Not Believe In Circumstances

People are always blaming circumstances for what they are.

I do not believe in circumstances.

The people who get on in this world
are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want,
and if they cannot find them,
make them.

- George Bernard Shaw

"Nothing will ever be attempted
if all possible objections must first be overcome"

- Samuel Johnson


Look for what's wrong - and fix it.

"Your organisation will never get better
unless you are first willing to admit what's wrong with it.

Then you must apply your resources to fix it."

- General Norman Schwarzkopf
at the "World Masters of Business" seminar 7/8/97

"The true challenge of leadership is to get people
to willingly do what they ordinarily would not do."

- General Norman Schwarzkopf
at the "World Masters of Business" seminar 7/8/97


"The key to success in any endeavour is adding value."

- Tony Lenart

"When you add value you significantly add profit."

- Brad Cooper, CEO - FAI Security Group & Director of Marketing - FAI
at the "World Masters of Business" seminar 7/8/97
(As an example, when the FAI Security Group install their alarms,
they look at what else they can do to help the customer.
They spend $23,000 a year on light bulbs
so they can replace a customer's bulb if they see it needs replacing.
They fix 1000 doors a month - and all of this is done "for free".
And as a result of always looking at how they can add value,
their referral rate has skyrocketed,
and sales increased from $1m/yr to $100m/yr over a four year period.)

Brad Cooper's 5 rules of business

1/ Add value. Add value. Add value

2/ Cut the overhead to the max.

3/ Concentrate on your core product and drive the revenue up.

4/ Share the profit (with your workforce).

5/ Seek to create a wonderful work environment
- Brad Cooper, CEO - FAI Security Group & Director of Marketing - FAI
at the "World Masters of Business" seminar 7/8/97

Creating Added Value
In Your Business
(A small plug for The Institute of Advanced Leadership)

How many squares do you see?

How many squares do you see in the picture on the left?

Most people would see only 16 squares.

Yet when we look from a different perspective we see that there are actually 30 squares in total (counting the 2 x 2 squares, the 3 x 3 squares, and the outside square which is 4 x 4 little squares in size).

In the same way, most organisations limit their profit, their levels of customer service, their overall success, through operating in a way similar to that which they have always operated.

The Institute of Advanced Leadership believe that every company has within it the potential to achieve results far in excess of that which it is currently realising.

We create added value by working with you in developing your people:

  • by expanding their view on what can be achieved;
  • by increasing commitment and raising their self expectations towards excellence;
  • by working with systems;
  • and by developing skills and understandings that translate into tangible improvements.


"When teams are truly learning,
not only are they producing extraordinary results,
but the individual members are growing more rapidly
than could have occurred otherwise."

- Peter Senge

"Teamwork is no accident.
It is the by-product of good leadership."

- John Adair

Love and Work

The man who sinks his pick axe into the ground
wants the stroke to mean something.
The convict's stroke is not the same as the prospector's
for the obvious reason that the prospector's stroke has meaning
and the convict's stroke has none.
... It is using a pickaxe to no purpose that makes a prison:
the horror resides in the failure to enlist all those
who swing the pick in the community of mankind.

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery


"The maxims of business have changed.
In the 1970's, the cry was - "We sell or else!"
In the 1980's - "We satisfy or else!"
In the 1990's - "We over satisfy in the deepest most passionate way or else!"

- Brad Cooper, CEO - FAI Security Group & Director of Marketing - FAI
at the "World Masters of Business" seminar 7/8/97
e.g. At The Institute of Advanced Leadership we guarantee that if you're not more than satisfied
we'll give you double your money back.
And when we do One-on-One Leadership Development work
we normally spend thousands of dollars on each client to make it as rewarding as possible,
yet we rarely charge for any expenses.
And by doing everything we can to make the most difference for our clients,
the results have been very rewarding - for our clients, and for us.
For example, last week one of my clients told me
that his business has grown by 100% since we started working together a year ago,
and that our work together was instrumental in ensuring his success.
So he now wants me to do one-on-one work with all 50 staff
as well as the 50 people he intends to hire over the next year.
And this client was referred by another company I worked with.
This company also started with me training one person
- this led to me training virtually everyone else in the company
- and half of these became millionaires within a year of doing the work together.
- Tony Lenart

The Funny Thing About Life

It's a funny thing about life;
if you refuse to accept anything but the best,
you very often get it.

- W. Somerset Maugham

Awesome Service

The best kept secret in the global economy today is this
- when your service is AWESOME
you get so stinking rich
you have to buy new bags to carry all the money home.

- Tom Peters

Training Budgets Offer Insight Into Service Commitment

The latest statistics on training in Australia reveal that it is still regarded as a cost,
rather than an investment in improved performance.

How committed is business to providing the very best service to customers?
Is it all just lip service or is it genuine?
In my experience, there are very few that put their money where their mouths are.

- Lisa Killerby, Page 42, "Human Resources Monthly" (The official journal of The Australian Human Resources Institute), June 1998

Improving Customer Service

Improving Customer Service isn't just about teaching people to smile,
or to think that the customer is always right.

Its about changing the work-place from a place you have to work
to a place that works.

Improving Customer Service means creating a work-place that's enjoyable to be in,
where staff are empowered,
and can utilise their talents to create excellence.

When you've created a workplace like this
employees will be diligent and dedicated because they're excited.
And will provide great service because they really want to help.

And staff will achieve excellent results
because they're able to tap in to the excellence, the power, the talent within them,
which they may never have had a chance to express before.

- Tony Lenart
© Copyright 1999, The Institute of Advanced Leadership. ( All rights reserved. Last updated 15th July 1999
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