63: Leaders With Heart Know That They Need Followers Before They Can Lead

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Steve McIntosh about his leadership style, a very engaging story of his early leadership challenges and some powerful tips for all leaders. 

Key takeaway:

  • Always seek feedback from all around.
  • Leaders don’t realize that in order to lead, you must have followers.
  • People want their leaders to take them somewhere they want to go.
  • Provide a setting that allows your team to see the good and bad of leadership by giving them more responsibility.
  • It can be lonely as a sole leader. Do it with others.
  • Leaders are not superheroes.

Enjoy this conversation with a gent from Scotland who currently resides in the Cayman Islands!

Steve McIntosh is a business owner, chartered accountant and HR professional. 

Born and raised in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland, he graduated from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, where he studied accounting and psychology. After starting his career with global accounting firm KPMG, Steve qualified as a chartered accountant (ICAEW) and transferred to the Cayman Islands in September 2001. In 2004 Steve founded financial services recruitment firm CML which grew to become one of the most successful recruitment firms in the Caribbean region. 

Today, CML provides recruitment and HR services to many of the world’s best-known professional and financial services firms. Inspired by a passion for helping people and companies perform at their best, he dedicated himself to the study and practice of Human Resources, qualifying in 2013 as a Global Professional in HR (GPHR, HRCI). There’s no zealot like a convert, they say. 

These days, as CEO-at-large, Steve spends most of his time working tirelessly to help his clients build great teams; his candidates and staff, great careers.

Never Quite There

You never quite know where your leadership journey is going to take you. Now, I find myself right in an interesting crossroad. It’s almost like being at the start of a new path. I just think, in leadership, every day is a new learning experience and you’re never quite there. But I love to challenge myself and I love to learn. I read a lot and I love talking to other leaders.

Like anything else, you learn from your mistakes. No one had a conversation with me to say, “You’re a leader in this organization and here’s what that means.” 

Looking back, I really wish they had. I’m not sure I would have listened, but I wish they tried, because it may have helped me avoid some of the mistakes I did.

The day you reach the end of your leadership journey is the day you should retire. – @cml_steve_mc #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Agree What Needs To Be Done

Leadership is changing. – @cml_steve_mc #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

I thought, my transition as a leader was a well-trodden path because I started thinking about my job as a manager and as a boss who tells people what to do. 

But it dawns on you eventually that that approach just doesn’t work. 

So, my approach to leadership these days is not to tell people what to do but to agree what needs to be done, to make sure they have the resources and the support they need to be able to do it well, to continue the conversation with them about what their goals are, and what we can do as an organization to help them achieve their goals.

I think, if you do that, then, they start happy in advancing their careers, in developing professionally and in mastering their craft. Those are the things that make people happy. 

I don’t get hung up on how people do things anymore. I don’t try to enforce standards on people. We agree on results at the highest possible level. I help them reach that target.

Command and Control

The command and control style of leadership worked one time in the boomer generation because people have seen tough times in the society. 

They’ve gone to war and they’ve been used to some level of adversity. They’ve been used to following instructions. Maybe education was slightly different so it doesn’t encourage as much freethinking as it does today.

But know this: today, people come out of the university and they’re very smart. They have been taught to think freely, and they expect to do that in their jobs

If you just go and try to tell people what to do, they might do it in the short term, but it’s going to lead to all kinds of problems and conflict.

With a lack of autonomy, people are just going to leave. 

Whereas, if you just agree on what needs to be done and let them get on with it, it doesn’t always work out, but at least when it does work out, they’re happy. Over time, you end up with a team that is high performing.

Step up and make it happen yourself. – @cml_steve_mc #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetThe entire value of our company is driven by our people. The more successful they are, eventually, the more successful we’ll be. – @cml_steve_mc #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetYour bosses are just humans, not superheroes. – @cml_steve_mc #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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