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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading

7 Questions with John Roydhouse

helps you in your leadership.



Jonno White

7 Questions with John Roydhouse

Name: John Roydhouse

Current title: Managing Director

Current organisation: Roydhouse & Associates

John is a highly respected, professional Board Member, Chief Executive Officer and Company Non Executive Director, Secretary with a background in public advocacy, policy and driving profitable and sustainable solutions through innovation and organisational culture change.

7 Questions with John Roydhouse


1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

Leading a Non for Profit (NFP) of any size has significant challenges. Firstly as the CEO you serve a board who are volunteers with good philanthropic intent, having other interests and demands. Secondly you have to run a for profit business with the additional constraints of ensuring your charitable intent is also served. Ultimately you have to believe in and have a passion for the organisation's mission and vision.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Like many, you work hard at following a passion and work your way up the ladder. I was always prepared to put my hand up for those tasks no one else wanted, with the knowledge that if you didn't, goals would not be met. This approach was recognised and slowly I was able to build a career in the NFP sector. My long term employer allowed me to start as 2IC and then learn the industry, build a reputation and take the CEO role. This allowed me to build credibility with members, the board and with industry stakeholders we sought to influence.

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

Like many, time was of the essence with demands increasing as you became more successful. I travelled a lot so many days were an early start at the airport, checking emails etc at the departure gate. I had a rule never to work on a flight, watch a movie instead. You would be surprised how many confidential documents can be glanced at by the person sitting next to you.

Days in the office were somewhat structured, check emails on the commute to the office so I knew what I was in for, attempt to get to the office at least half an hour before the rest of the team and tackle that important task. schedule regular meetings with staff, stakeholders etc, maintaining an open door policy. If there was an issue, I could always be encouraged to go for a coffee to work through the crisis of the moment.

A walk home 60 minutes or so often helped clear the mind and solve a burning issue. As a rule I prepared a task list of what needed to be done each morning, and ranking priorities with deadlines. If I achieved 50%, that was a good day and a good rule is to ask yourself. "What will happen if I don't actually get it finished today?" It certainly will relieve some of the pressure especially if you are open, honest and communicate with your board chair.

4. What’s the most recent significant leadership lesson you’ve learned?

It is often said we are born with one mouth and two ears and use them proportionally. It never ceases to amaze me how your own words come back to you.

From staff to most recently a mentee, I have been assisting in her career progression. To have something quoted back to you after many months suggests a level of trust that must be valued above all. Listen carefully before you answer and if you need to take time to respond do so. If you don't know the answer, say so.

Much is said about values based leadership. It is very powerful and I believe strongly in instilling values into an organisation and living them.

To do so requires strong leadership and acceptance of those values at staff and board level with constant reminders. I always published the values, mission and vision on every board pack, highlighted at every public presentation and prominently displayed in the office. Stand by those values and live them in every action and decision. Your teams will follow.

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

"Fit: When Talent and Intelligence Just Won't Cut It"
Author Warren Kennaugh
The book answers the fundamental performance questions that people have asked for generations. Why is that some individuals are consistently high performers, how do they keep performing in varying situations, organisations and contexts, why can some people just not seem to be able to crack that code, and why do some individuals perform exceptionally well in certain organisations but not in others? This fresh new book challenges current thinking about the war for talent and the role intelligence plays in high performance sport and business.

I invited Warren to attend a staff meeting and his influence and insight on the whole organisation was amazing. With his wisdom, staff where empowered to "own their job and grow the business"

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

Encourage all around you to strive to do more, to take the next challenge and share all praise. Make sure you acknowledge the wins, giving your team the credit. If there is a failure, take ownership of that failure, support your team and discuss what went wrong, what you would do again by talking candidly but supportively at the same time.

Give staff plenty of opportunity for professional development and networking with like organizations.

7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

On announcing my retirement after 12 years providing leadership to a significant NFP, the expression of thanks from staff, stakeholders and members was overwhelming. Each had a unique story they wished to relate of how I had made a difference to their daily work. It was a humbling experience. Today I still mentor emerging leaders and continue that passion to invest in people.

Just this week I received an email from a mentee.

It stated "Just writing this email to you is cathartic and I really have appreciated your advice and guidance this year. I know I still have areas to improve upon, however I start each challenge with - what would John ask? Do I have the evidence, can I get the evidence, why do we need to do it."

We can never stop growing the next generation of leaders and a true leader will always give.

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