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Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with

Jenny Junkeer

helps you in your leadership.

Jenny Junkeer

Jenny Junkeer

Name: Jenny Junkeer

Title: CEO

Organisation: Intent


Jenny Junkeer has two decades of experience in organisation transformation and optimisation. Jenny has skills in scaling; design thinking; agile project management; change management; corporate strategy; process redesign; financial modelling and cost optimisation.
Having worked on many scaling projects during her career, Jenny has become passionate about taking a customer-centric approach to business and uses an experiential mindset whenever designing any solution.

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The most challenging thing as a leader is having enough time in the day to dedicate to the development of your teams. Talent management is a full time role, however I, like most leaders, have so many other roles that I have to carry out in addition. I have so many ideas on what I would do to raise the careers of my team members; it is a mental struggle to not be able to execute on all of them at all times.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I worked for a professional services accounting firm early in my career and quickly got promoted to a leadership position. I then left to start my own business, so I essentially became an instant leader, even if at that stage it was just a team of 1, me. I had to lead the business. Once I started hiring externally, I continued on the leadership role naturally.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

When I wake up, every second day I go downstairs and complete a gym workout. I then do my shower and other 'getting ready for the day' items. Before I start work at around 9am, I try and fit a 15min meditation in. Work is then instantaneously full on. No two days of work have even been the same for me, so there is never a pattern to my day.

But there are principles I follow each day. They are 1) I need to concentrate on identifying my highest value items and ensure I do them before anything else, 2) I always prioritise the order I should do things, 3) I make myself available for checkpoints from my team, 4) I consider my approach to a task before I start it, to ensure I am about to do it most efficiently, 5) I don't look at my emails and allow my EA to support me in managing them, and 6) I listen to what is happening around me through our internal chat channels to assess if the days plan needs to change.

I usually finish my day at around 6.30pm and I go straight to the kitchen to make dinner for the family. I spend time with them whilst cooking and then afterwards I help my son with his homework, or attend a basketball game of my daughter. If I don't have work to do later that evening, I usually spend time with my husband watching something and unwind from the day. I often go to bed about 11pm and do it all over again the next day.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I am a fast speaker, so I often have to remind myself to slow my speech down, especially when delegating work. There was a client project we were working on recently that had tight deadlines. For us to meet everything by the deadline, it needed precise delegation and constant communication, as there were many balls in the air that were constantly moving.

We did our MPA framework really well (Measure, Prioritise, Act), in fact we were having several quick MPA meetings during the day at one point. We got through the deadline well, however there were small things that slipped through the cracks. Upon a reflection day with the team, we discussed that period of time. An important leadership lesson I learned was how team members experienced that period and how some of things I did, that I wouldn't have expected to cause unnecessary anxiety, did cause some.

Such as the use of the language 'urgent', a few too many times that it had lost its meaning. Also I underestimated that at times of a high pressure situation, the ability to comprehend delegated instructions varied to times when it was given in a non pressure situation. So I incorrectly delegated in the same way as I usually did, perhaps though at the fast paced speech that I commonly talk at.

However the team was only able to handle one thing at a time, otherwise overwhelm set in, whereas I was delegating a few things to each person at a time. Also my fast talking made it harder for them to take effective task briefs, they only got some of the detail down compared to what they are normally able to digest. So going forward, I have learned in high pressure situations to actually slow everything down, and be highly methodical with my approach.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown was one book that deeply changed my leadership style. For nearly all of my career I have been a leader, however for most of it I look back and I realised I hadn't been an empathetic leader. This book firstly made me realise that I needed to be a more empathetic person, and taught me how to do that.

This then extended to me realising I needed to become an empathetic leader. Early on in my career, I was more impatient, had lower tolerance for mistakes, and was expecting people to be accountable to their word. Whilst I still believe people should be accountable to their word, I now am much more patient to understand why there weren't able to keep it.

Also when mistakes are made, I now use them as a training opportunity and help them prevent future mistakes similar to this one. Whilst, like most people, I didn't believe I was a bad leader, this book inspired me to be the best type of leader I could be.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Self awareness is the biggest aspect of leadership development for an aspiring leader. Being a leader is one of the hardest jobs in the world. And there are actually many things you have to learn, and you will continuously be pushed to learn new things for a long time. It is impossible to learn all of these lessons at once.

So if you have self-awareness, the best you can achieve is that you learn as many of these lessons in the shortest amount of time possible. A leader with self-awareness also usually has a more tame ego. I believe ego's get you in trouble in leadership, there is no place for it.

Ambition as a leader is different to ego, so I am all about young leaders wanting to climb to the top of whatever mountains they are climbing. But the best way they will get their in my opinion is to have enough self-awareness of their own flaws, and the openness to work on them (which often ego prevents from happening).

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Every one is different. I have never been a leader for two people that are even remotely alike. So every leadership experience I have ever had, creates unique stories. I would say the only thing that is common across all of the leadership experiences, is some themes that have emerged for me.

1) People just want to be heard, they deserve the respect of being listened to.
2) They all learn in different ways, so what they say about understanding the type of learner employees are is actually one of the best advice I have ever received.
3) Everyone means well, even employees that do not quite have the capability needed to do their job, are trying really hard because they think they can. And sometimes it may not necessarily be them.
One of the meaningful things I have learned is that an employee-leader relationship is like a personal relationship. There are people that are suited for you; and there are people that are suited for a company; and there are people that are suited for a job role; And unless you have the trifecta match, it is really hard to be their leader.

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