Name: David du Plessis
Title: Managing Director
Organisation: Aller Consulting, Australia
I am a passionate leader in the private health insurance and health care industry focused on driving improved value to consumers and patients through aligning payers and providers in developing value based care.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope David's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Meeting people where they are. It is easy to get enveloped in where you want your team and organisation to go, but sometimes hard to understand each individuals needs to be brought along on that journey in a way that meets there needs.
Some people love what they do for work and some people just want to get in and do a good job but care about other things. I haven’t always been considerate of this second group of peoples needs and tailored my leadership to help them along on the journey.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was lucky to have great mentors in a medium sized family business that guided me and encouraged me to take on leadership roles (after my time in the airforce which also focused heavily on leadership development as an officer).
The business was then sold to a hospital group and I was given the chance at a relatively young age (27) to take on the CEO role of the acquired business.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I like to spend the morning on self care and family. Generally start it with a cold plunge and then breakfast with the family and getting the kids to school.
I then focus on getting through the complex and more taxing work in the morning and try and leave meetings and emails to the afternoon. If an evening I balance most with some form of exercise and always make sure to have dinner with the family.
Later at night is when I have my down time and read, do personal projects or watch TV. I try and have a consistent bed time at 10pm.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
That being a good follower is as important as being a good leader. People forget that you can learn as much from following a good leader as you can from having the privilege and opportunity to lead people.
I was once told that the best lessons in leadership I will get are when I am treated poorly as a follower and make a commitment that I will never treat my people that way. It has always held true.
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?
Long walk to freedom - it taught me that what you believe and your commitment to it can help overcome any obstacles and that, given enough time, the right people will naturally follow you on that path.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
You can’t not be a great leader if you do not honestly care about your people and have interest in who they are. Develop these traits and your followers will forgive you your mistakes.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
That hard decisions are as important to show you care about your people as anything else. I learnt a long time ago that doing the messy and hard work to performance manage the people not performing is a way of showing the people who are that what they do matters.