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7 Questions on Leadership with Ian McCready

Name: Ian McCready

Title: Learning & development engineer

Organisation: Nortal

Supporting employee engagement, growth leading to business success. I always apply the human centric approach to any multi stakeholder strategy and believe that everyone uses maximum 70% of their potential!

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

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


Jonno White

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

The most challenging is item the most interesting and rewarding. The diversity of personality, thought, and experience of colleagues. This diversity is perhaps one of the most complex hurdles to being a great leader, but it also challenges your to better understand your own traits and methods of communication and engagement.

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

It happened by chance. Excelling in engagement, interaction and communication, as well as strategic planning, led to open doors in community management, event creation and to this point of leading in projects related to Learning and development.

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

I try to keep to schedules but with younger children it’s sometimes difficult. Usually the day begins with the family before separating to daycare and working life. During the commute I usually listen to podcasts or read a book. I try to keep work strictly to the office so usually refrain from checking schedules and tasks until I arrive. I’m quite keen in maintaining a healthy work life balance.

Work days are a mix of meetings, focus time and breaks with colleagues. I try ti keep at least one day a week, usually a Friday, meeting free to catch up, referent and plan a little for the next week.

Evening routines involve the parent struggle of kids eating, playing and sleeping ☺️

Once the kids are in bed it’s finally time to go for a walk/run or catch up with some tv show before switching off.

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

Compassion in the workplace is so much underrated! We are usually so focused of goals, budgets and time that we more often than not fails to see the human side of the employee. This is the core of my leadership morals but sometimes we need little prompts or nudges to be reminded of our values.

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?

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek inspires me daily. It strongly encourages a leader to prioritise well-being of team members, leading to increased trust, loyalty, performance and innovation from colleagues. It had had a profound effect on how I foster and nurture growth both in my own team and in the rest of the organisation.

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

Take time to better know who you are, your strengths, your weaknesses and aim to grow and learn continuously. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is never a weakness.

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

This story is about encouragement, empowerment and respect. It comes down to the diversity of personalities mentioned in a previous response. I was leading a multicultural team in a project and there was a moment where it felt we were getting no further forward toward the objectives due to client issues. So we called for what I call team blitz. We had an entire afternoon, no work, no office, no tech. We had a fun activity that got the blood flowing and broke the ice. This could be anything, but we went karting. After this we are tigger and used this opportunity to discuss the sticky project that seemed to get nowhere. I found a lot of the team contributed to the potential reasons but these were the usual outspoken personalities. There were two individuals who were silent, listening intently but didn’t speak. I wanted their contribution but didn’t want to make them feel uneasy, so I created a circle and asked for 3 potential causes and their idea of a solution from each. I wanted to gave them the space to speak freely and make it feel safe and trusting. Surprisingly, these two quiet individuals were the most observant and had the most innovative suggestions to move the project forward. After a series of elimination the top two ideas to try were from both these individuals.

This highlights that although Simone may be quiet, with the right tools and methods, we can bring out the best of every individual in the team and empower the entire team towards success.

The project by the way shifted a gear and the objectives were reached ahead of the timeline thanks to this moment.

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