Name: David Allan
Title: Executive Coach & Talent Management Consultant
Organisation: ALD Coaching
I started my career with 5 years of learning a trade in Auto-Electrics. Got married to an America girl and went overseas to the U.S. for 5 years, where I worked in warehousing and retail, making my way up into management. My wife and I had our first daughter in the U.S., and we eventually came back to Australia, where I became a minister of religion for 10 years. We had 2 more children, another daughter, and a son.
After burning out from ministry, and taking some time to recover, I ended up starting my own coaching and consulting business. I discovered that many leaders struggled with burnout and various other leadership development issues. Thus, I was able to assist many leaders to avoid burnout, and finding ways to thrive. I went back to University part-time and completed a Masters' thesis on Executive Coaching and Leadership Empowerment.
After completing my Masters, while still running my coaching and consulting business I volunteered to assist on a NFP board. Within a year I could see they were in serious trouble. I ended up stepping up as the Acting CEO, and becoming the CEO part-time for 5 years, while pearing back my consultancy business. I was able to stear the organisation to a complete turnaround, developing a great team along with the full support of the board.
The organisation is doing exceptionally well today with it being handed on to the next CEO. I'm now back to full-time in my consultancy developing leaders, teams, and assisting with talent management of employees.
An interesting thing occurred in 2018 where as an adoptee I decided to search for biological family in Ancestry DNA. I found siblings all living in the UK. I've created a great relationship with one of my sisters who meets with me weekly on video chat. It has been a profound experience.
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?
In my early years of leadership, dealing with conflict was difficult. I used to let things stay unresolved thinking they would blow over. Sounds stupid now, I know.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Up until my late teens, I never wanted to be a leader. As I grew I sensed a call on my life to make a difference. I had a few key mentors that came into my life, and I was challenged to take responsibility in volunteer roles, where I learned to lead. One thing led to another where leadership competencies are just natural today. I regulalry get asked to lead, and today I mostly mentor other young leaders.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I just have some set priorities. I wake up and before my feet hit the ground I take time to pray and reflect over a Bible passage, which calms my mind and reminds me of my identity. With these foundations in place I approach life with a calm demeanour. I then work through my work priorities that I set out at the beginning of the week. Near the end of the day, often early evening I either lift weights or play squash to get my regular exercise in.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I've recently been reminded that you can't put an old head on young shoulders. So it is important to support young leaders when they make mistakes, so they can bounce back through failures into greater successes.
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?
Crucial Conversations - It has given me a clear process in how to deal with difficult conversations and the capacity to pass the model onto others giving them greater capacity for dealing with conflict.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Get a coach.
When I went through signficant leadership conflict and burned out, I later got a coach and realised what a mistake I had made by not having one. I should have had someone in my corner to ask me the tought and insightful questions I needed, so I could get clarity and take quality actions with some accountability thrown in.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Coming into an organisation on the brink of collapse financially and culturally, and leading it to success financially and culturally. It was hard work and took 5 years, but it is good to look back on.