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7 More Questions on Leadership with Stephen Byrne

Name: Stephen Byrne


Organisation: DIFFUSION

Stephen is an expert international senior strategy and marketing CMO/SVP/Director. He has held a number of senior advisory consulting strategy roles with listed, fast growth and emerging companies. He's worked with startups, well backed boutiques, brand, advertising, digital communication consulting and strategy agencies and large client side corporates in London, New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne.

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 Stephen'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?

Be both transparent, consistent and pragmatic with your approach to all stakeholders no matter where they sit within your oganisation or business. Provide leadership that is informed but also demonstrably willing to make leaps and judgements based on sound and well researched ideas and thinking. Have structures in place that ensure consistency of decision making and decisions made.

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

They are different. Vision is what you see happening with an organisation or business in the next five to 10 years. It doesn't have to look entirely practical or pragmatic and gives you room to dream. I don't really believe in a Mission for an organisation but I do believe every should have a purpose, whether it's brand purpose or a general purpose, it's a reason for being and will drive your everymove. I use both Vision and Purpose when I'm asked to develop a brand strategy for a business or organisation and it often shocks me to read how many don't have either or conflate the two.

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

Of course, that should be the outcome of good leadership. If you can't empower people then they don't really have any purpose working for you beyond the mere functional or transactional.

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?

When I worked in government I had a leadership mentor who told me that you shouldn't try to make someone good at everything in their job. I had a exhibition designer working for me who couldn't spell and I'd spend an inordinate amount of time correcting his written proposals. He said I should concentrate on his strengths, which were in design and build, not spelling. I think it's a great lesson, concentrate on people's strengths first and foremost. If they are doing a great job, that's the most you can ask of them.

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

Be structured in your planning and thinking, that will enable to stay focussed on both the strategic and the everyday.

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?

Again, it's about thinking ahead and having structures in place that enable future plans whether they are for one week or one year ahead. Have these written into your strategy. You will be surprised how few organisations think modelling these on a spreadsheet or corporate plan is enough. They seldom think how to roll them down into the rest of their organisation or business. So they don't do it.

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

Just do it. You can't do it alone and until you're willing to relinquish control and allow trust, you're not going to learn or even understand the need and process of delegation unless you do. And if you don't, you'll come undone.

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