Name: Malcolm Phillipps
Title: Chief Growth Officer
A highly experienced C-level executive and Director, skilled at developing and delivering winning business strategies in competitive markets. Passionate about leading high-performing teams, having worked globally across Energy, Telecommunications, SaaS and Consumer Goods.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Malcolm's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Leaders can have a strong voice, which at times can make it seem that "their opinion is the way to go". In my experience, finding ways to "lower your voice" is critical, this provides space for the other voices in your team to be heard - often leading to far better outcomes.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was fortunate to be put into positions of responsibility very early on in my career. At the age of 21, I had 10 people reporting to me, managing key functions for a national automotive brand. That responsibility started me on my journey to understanding the difference between being a manager and a leader.
The leadership transition occurred in my role as Chief Marketing Officer at 2degrees (a telecommunications company). The CEO, Eric Hertz, showed me how important it was to a) empower your team, b) connect with your team and c) provide a story/vision that helps to unite and inspire them
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
As time has gone on, I have increasingly sought 'balance' in my workday structure. For me, this means:
1) Exercising first thing in the morning. I am a "social" marathon runner, so usually exercise will mean a 5km - 10km run.
2) This is followed by a review of communications that have come in overnight - with operations across multiple countries and time zones, there is generally a body of work to provide timely responses that keep the organisation moving.
3) Single-minded focus on the core of the working day
4) Connect with family - I will pick my children up from their sports / after-school activities, then cook a family meal - we always eat our evening meal together.
5) Finish off any final work, then unwind, ready for the next day.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
A recent lesson I have been reminded of is the importance of leaders fostering contributions from people with differing styles of thinking in an organisation. Often we find it easiest to work with people on our 'wavelength', but this inevitably leads to 'groupthink'.
Synthesizing the output of a diverse team with differing thought styles will ultimately lead to richer outcomes.
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?
Jim Collins: Good to Great would have to be the one book that has had the largest impact. So much of this book has rung true throughout my career - but the description of a leader stands out: "A top-level leader is incredibly driven and ambitious, maintains a healthy sense of self-awareness, and is able to put the needs of others above their own."
I always come back to that last line, putting the needs of others above my own.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Have a clear vision, then surround yourself with a diverse team who you believe in - they will make that vision a reality, not you.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
In the mid 2000's, I worked with a young graduate, who had recently moved to New Zealand, with English as his second language. We formed a strong working relationship and achieved some great results. Over 15 years later, I received an email from him telling me of the impact I had had on his career.
We often forget that the imprint of our leadership can have an impact that has been felt for decades.
I am definitely not a perfect leader, but having that impact on even one person is hugely rewarding.