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7 More Questions on Leadership with David Allan

Name: David Allan

Title: Leadership & Employee Talent Management Consultant

Organisation: ALD Coaching

I assist organizations in their people management effectiveness. This includes senior leadership development, acquiring best-fit talent, the psychological side of onboarding, setting up a simple mapping process for the talent management life cycle of each employee to increase oveall engagement, and culture mapping of an organisation, so they can quickly see their strengths and areas of need.

Click here to read David's Interview on leadership

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

We’ve gone through the interviews and asked the best of the best to come back and answer 7 MORE Questions on Leadership.

I hope David's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. As a leader, how do you build trust with employees, customers and other stakeholders?

Naturally trust and relationships are inseparable. Trust is usually earned over time, so you need to be able to listen deeply, ask good open-ended questions, and be other-centric in your initial interactions in order to build relationships and grow trust.

People tend to give and receive trust differently. Some measure trust by how reliable you are, doing what you say you will do when you said you would do it. Others measure trust by how open and straightforward you are in your conversations. Others build trust by knowing they are fully accepted in a psychologically safe space, especially when othes disagree with their views.

So there is a lot going on when building trust, but the key is deep listening to truly get to know each person at an individual level. This is why I help businesses to gather such psychometric data with their employees to discover what 'engages' each employee at the individual level.

2. What do 'VISION' and 'MISSION' mean to you? And what does it actually look like to use them in real-world business?

For me, MISSION is the WHY of what an organisation does, and VISION is the WHAT of what an organisation does. MISSION rarely changes, but VISION adjusts according to the landscape.

As a leader I always cast vision every 4 to 6 weeks. As has been stated, vision leaks so you need to top it up. It adds to the emotional fuel, especially when one has to dig deep in work that they don't have a natural desire for.

The casting of vision and reminders of mission need to occur in speeches, written news letters, emails, executive team meetings, regular team meetings, one-to-one conversations, etc.. If the CEO doesn't embody the vision and mission as their own, they will not succeed at the highest level.

3. How can a leader empower the people they're leading?

Psychological empowement is made up of 4 facets (from my Masters Thesis).

1. Meaning in ones work

2. The feeling that someone is making an Impact

3. The feeling that someone is competent enough to do the work well, yet still have room for growth.

4. The sense that one can self-determine their way forword, not being micromanaged.

When leaders can coach others discovering the above and growing them into their roles, releasing them over time, there isn't much people can't accomplish toward a vision.

4. Who are some of the coaches or mentors in your life who have had a positive influence on your leadership? Can you please tell a meaningful story about one of them?

I have had a number of mentors/coaches in my life that have catapulted my life forward. This is why I believe so strongly in coaching.

As a young leader going through a burnout and in a low state wondering what is the point, I recall a coach with loads of leadership experience sitting down with me and helping me unpack the whole scenario. For the first time I saw the bigger picture from an organisational psychological perspective, which had previously escaped my attention. This had a profound impact on my interpretation of events and less demonising of people as individuals. It also impacted the way I led moving forward with far more consideration given to the bigger picture, taking more time to explore the management of change during strategic initiatives, etc..

5. Leadership is often more about what you DON'T do. How do you maintain focus in your role?

I think many leaders don't understand "Executive Presence." The way a leader models, not only in what they do practically before others, but also in how they hold themselves as a person has a profound impact. For me, this means taking care of myself, by slowing down in the morning and intaking appreciation, noticing the good in my life. I then show up with some margin to be able to handle negative things when they occur instead of reacting. This sort of confidence exudes into your leadership presence and others feel safe with you and your leadership.

When I coach leaders, many of them have low self-acceptance. If you have this, it can show up in being somewhat defensive especially when hearing negative feedback. This sends a subtle message to your direct reports, "I don't want to hear negative feedback." Instead of an open workplace that can bring up issues and deal with them, the leader creates underground issues and people speaking behind their back, etc..

6. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Everyone plans differently. How do you plan for the week, month and years ahead in your role?

As I've worked in different organisations I've used different approaches depending on the size and scope of the organization. When I worked as a CEO with a Board, we would develop a strategic plan together with me heading up the process. This would involve sentiment surveyes, etc.. The plan would look 3-5 years out into the future factoring in a PESTAL Analysis, SWOT, and many other external and internal factors.

Then staff would set annual objectives spreading them out through the year, which the staff were held accountable for. Our regular staff meetings would discuss progress toward quarterly milestones, monitoring on progress.

Each employee had their own personal goals with heads of departments having their own team and personal goals.

Everything tied back to the strategic plan so everyone could see their contribution to achieving the vision.

7. What advice would you give to a young leader who is struggling to delegate effectively?

Two words of advice:

1. Keep in mind that effective delegation speeds up efficiencies over time, although it tends to slow progress initially.

2. I would also say, that you can manage 2 people exactly the same and one will say, "You are not giving me enough support," while the other employee will say, "You are micromanaging me."

Hence, you need to get feedback from people you delegate to by asking, "In the areas of responsibility that you have as an employee, where am I not giving you enough support, and where am I intruding too much?" And truly listen, and adjust.

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