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7 Questions on Leadership with Andrew Coulthard

Name:  Andrew Coulthard

Title: CEO

Organisation: AfriPro Estates and Futura-uk

I'm a CEO, Director, Non-Exec and Chairman specialising in business consultancy and creative leadership development through quantum management thinking.

My focus is on collaboration and consortium work to build solutions to meet funding needs for international development in poor countries.

Quantum management is a system of organising the physical resources of an organisation and empowering entrepreneurial teams to deliver great purpose-driven results. I remember hearing a quote as a young man starting out and it's at the core of who I am…” all change comes through unreasonable men, " paraphrasing the great George Bernard Shaw quote - The Reasonable Man. I'm unreasonable and never accept the word can't.

Change is upon us and is forcing businesses to think of new ways of working. Talented people see the world differently and the old methods of Taylorism fail to deliver the purpose that attracts them.

I'm a civil engineer, a business owner and a company leader for 40 years. I take people who are doing the wrong things, really well, and help them to do the right things even better. I do this by challenging people to become Quantum Leaders at every level.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Self-criticism and doubt. I also experience a constant tension between being an engineer who sees a brick wall as a meaningful obstacle and my entrepreneurial urge to run straight through it.

The other challenge is working with people who appear at ease with change but fail to commit. Those most fearful are challenging too but once they see it they give it 100%.

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

I was unemployable at any other level. I was frustrated that other people couldn't see the blindingly obvious. I couldn't understand why 'sacred cows' couldn't be removed. I saw how many leaders stifled growth. I would wait until everyone had their say then state the obvious...which didn't appear obvious to anyone else. I found people with extraordinary talents, who didn't always fit the mould, who produced astonishing results and made me look good. So, I didn't become a leader, leadership found me and used me to achieve what it wanted through extraordinary people doing the right things very well indeed.

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

I don't. I'm instinctive. I follow the events of the day and facilitate success for those who deliver the work. In my downtime, I'm six to twelve months ahead imagineering and horizon scanning.

In the 80s I bought a (very expensive) Ostrich skin Filofax because I was supposed to. I never used the thing but it looked amazing in meetings. I don't plan, schedule, organise or constrain myself in any way at all. I simply make sure I'm available to those that need my support at any time.

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

I think differently from most of the other leaders I've met. I'm always impressed by the jargon and management speak that they use. But I've never understood why they do. I've read all of the customary management books and whilst I didn't learn a great deal doing my MBA, I did discover some truly great alternative thinking and approaches that resonated with me. More recently I have studied the work of Danah Zohar on Quantum's the blockchain of new management thinking. I like it.

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?

It isn't as simple as one book. Zero Distance (Zohar) was the catalyst but it led me down a path of questioning everything. I wanted to understand what money, banking and capitalism were about (The Creature from Jekyll Island - Griffin). I wanted to know why billions of dollars in aid made things worse in developing countries (Dead Aid - Moyo). I wanted to understand global economics (Technocracy: The Hard Road to World Order - Wood).

Being an HSP means you can 'see' things. It's like a distant envisioning. It gathers facts and conspiracies it assembles images and feelings and from it all clear pictures emerge which eventually reveal themselves as events. It's hard to explain and sounds woo-woo stuff...even I think so. But it's real (or maybe it's just imagined) in my head and it's the inner voice that guides me. The quieter I become, the louder and clearer it gets.

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

Keep going until you have as many and as broad experiences as you can find. Only then will you become a good leader.

I've worked with more than 100 leaders on three continents and each one is different and amazing.

Leadership isn't a theory it's a way of being which requires less of you the more you learn.

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

I was summoned to 10 Downing Street to meet with Tony Blair and an array of Cabinet Ministers. While waiting in a very grand room overlooking the Horse Guards Parade as they prepared for the late Queen's birthday. I suddenly realised that I was seen as a leader. Blair was a very impressive intellect, the others less so, and mid-sentence he was interrupted very rudely by his young aide and ushered out in some haste. "No, now Sir" she instructed him, impatiently. He got up and left. I was later told that it was US Secretary of State, Rice, who was on a secure line that only remained so for around 20 minutes. Something about a Gulf War.

I realised then that it doesn't matter how high you go, you must always listen and do the right thing no matter who it is telling you to do so.

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