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7 Questions on Leadership with Matthew Wallace

Name: Matthew Wallace

Title: Acting Managing Director, Development Americas

Organisation: Lendlease

A 30-year veteran of the property development industry, Matthew has spent almost 20 years with Mirvac and 10 years with Lendlease. Currently based in NY and running the Development business for Lendlease Americas, Matthew has a passion for creating value and achievement through others.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Staying true to the Corporate view when you don't agree with the outcome.

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

I feel very deeply about 'doing the right thing' and that reward follows effort, not the other way around. I've always put the business ahead of my personal interests and I think this has helped me to stand out from others throughout my career and reflect the values and the culture of the companies I've worked for.

I was given an opportunity to manage a sales team of about 20 people when I was about 25 and I've had fairly steady career progression since. Undertaking an MBA in my 30's really paved the way for more senior executive roles.

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

I've always got up and started work early, often leaving for work in the dark. I definitely focus better in the mornings, so I try to get through the most cerebral work when I'm free to focus. I have a very healthy diet through the week with a good breakfast, a carb-free lunch with protein and a light dinner.

I usually finish around 6.00-6.30pm but have meetings 2 - 3 times a week until 8.00 or 9.00pm. I usually watch about an hour of TV before going to bed around 8.30 and then up again at 4.30 the next day.

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

People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. I think as leaders we must take the time to get to know our people, their hopes and aspirations and as it relates to their careers, help them to gather the skills and experiences necessary to get there.

Also, the further from the business the decision is made, the blunter it's likely to be. When you're contemplating change and in control, make sure you're thoughtful about gathering insights from multiple levels in the business.

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?

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. I consider that I have only an average or maybe slightly better level of IQ than most and as a mid-level manager thought that I may have 'topped out' in terms of my career.

This book gave me a level of belief in myself and confidence that my strengths would be relevant for the rest of my career. It came at a time when I was beginning to wonder if I was an imposter in the role that I was in.

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

Develop and maintain a good reading habit. Maintaining an open mind is important and it's too easy to become internally focused.

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

Having a purpose beyond profit that people in your industry can subscribe to regardless of their generation is powerful, particularly when diverse contributors can all see how applying this to their field contributes to the organization's success.

Bringing this connection to life for our teams is our responsibility as leaders. Find the right people, inspire them and continually explain the 'why'.

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