Name: Mark Elley
Navigating the dynamic world of technology, Mark Elley has consistently demonstrated strategic insight and grounded leadership. He has led IT teams at DXC Red Rock and currently contributes to the Senior Leadership Team at NuVerge. His entrepreneurial journey with Jireh Consulting further adds to his IT leadership experience. Beyond the tech specs, Mark's focus always leans towards the people, emphasizing talent development and innovative thinking.
Away from the tech scene, Mark has a deep connection with his community. His prior ownership of Little and Local Cafe, Bar, and Restaurant has given him insights into local dynamics. Furthermore, as the board chair for Springboard, Mark channels his dedication towards aiding at-risk youth, reflecting his deep commitment to community upliftment. In all his roles, Mark stands as a symbol of humble service and dependable leadership.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Mark's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Without a doubt, the most challenging aspect of leadership for me has been navigating the complexities of people management. Leadership isn't just about charting a course; it's about bringing everyone on board and ensuring the team moves forward smoothly. Given the diverse mindsets of individuals I've worked with, it has often been a balancing act.
There have been moments of frustration, especially when I'm eager to accelerate tasks, but find others moving at a seemingly slower pace. The challenge lies in recognizing that each individual has their own rhythm and method of contributing. Over time, I've learned that patience is crucial. It's essential to invest time in coaching and mentoring, guiding individuals along the path so they can reach their full potential. Some grasp the opportunity and excel, while others may not always reciprocate the effort and investment.
Building a foundation of trust is pivotal. This isn't just about the professional tasks at hand but about forming a genuine relationship that goes beyond the confines of a job description. Admittedly, there have been instances where, after all the investment, some choose to walk away. Those moments are tough but they also offer invaluable lessons in resilience and the intricate dance of leadership.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My journey to leadership was a blend of instinct and circumstance. Equipped with a distinct set of skills, I felt an inner nudge to venture into entrepreneurship. The responsibility of a family with four kids, coupled with a mortgage, posed a daunting question: would I manage to keep the home fires burning? This responsibility became a driving force. My faith played a monumental role in this leap of faith, with a supportive community cheering me on, solidifying my resolve.
Soon after embarking on this venture, the need for a team became evident. Building it began with forging trusted relationships with colleagues. As we expanded, the team encompassed a rich mix of seasoned professionals and enthusiastic newcomers who required mentoring and training. A vital lesson from that period was learning to delegate tasks that I believed I could excel in, understanding that for growth to occur, others had to undergo their own trials and errors.
Nurturing a supportive environment where the team felt empowered, mentored, and encouraged was paramount. Over the course of eight years, the company flourished, servicing a diverse range of corporate clients, including some of the nation's most iconic brands. In all those years, we experienced only one resignation due to personal reasons, a testament to the familial bond and camaraderie we fostered. We worked with purpose, not just as professionals but as individuals striving for personal growth and providing for our families.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My day begins with an early start, setting the tone to stay ahead of the curve. Over time, I've found a rhythm that allows me to both drive the business effectively and maintain a harmonious work-life balance. To this end, I've designated Mondays and Fridays for planning and internal obligations. Mondays are reserved for strategizing and internal discussions, whereas Fridays ensure that promises made throughout the week are kept and the week concludes on a high note. The core of the week, from Tuesday to Thursday, is a bustling period filled with customer interactions, partner meetings, and recruitment-related tasks.
A typical day for me starts with addressing emails, paving the way for meetings and travel from 10 am to 4 pm. Once that's wrapped up, I head back to the office to tie up any loose ends and prepare for the next day. One of my non-negotiables, when I'm not on the road, is having dinner with my family. This quality time is invaluable and recharges me. Afterward, while some evenings demand attention to additional work items, I'm driven not by the weight of responsibility but by a genuine passion for what we're building. The blend of hard work, shared moments of leisure with the team, and cherished family times makes this routine far from taxing; instead, it feels invigorating.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
"Structure is a Super Power" - this was the powerful lesson I gleaned from a recent charity event I attended. Gilbert Enoka, the esteemed All Blacks Manager and Mental Skills Coach, was one of the keynote speakers. He posed a thought-provoking question to the audience: "Which of these is a super power - Skillset, Structure, or Mindset?" While a majority believed that mindset held the mantle, Enoka revealed that it was, in fact, structure that stood out as the genuine super power.
He delved into anecdotes from his two-decade journey with the All Blacks, highlighting instances where the introduction of structure turned the tide for the team, addressing challenges both on and off the field. For me, his insights were an epiphany. Though I've always prided myself on being structured, Gilbert's stories reinforced the significance of structure as a tool to navigate through tumultuous times.
When faced with chaos or unpredictability, it's the framework and structure that can illuminate a clear path forward, offering clarity amidst confusion. This revelation was, without a doubt, GOLD!
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?
In truth, I've never been an avid reader, unlike my wife who has an insatiable appetite for books. I often joke that my daily life holds enough drama to negate the need for further tales. But if there's one book that has deeply influenced my life and leadership, it's the Bible. This isn't about evangelizing or being preachy; it's a sincere reflection of how the teachings and stories from this sacred text have moulded my character, values, and leadership style. The Bible has offered me guidance in moments of doubt, strength in times of weakness, and has continually shaped the person I am today.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
My foremost advice would be: Take one day at a time. While it's essential to plan and envision the future, tackle each day's tasks as they come. Strive to handle the immediate concerns in front of you, all while staying cognizant of future challenges. Don't let the weight of tomorrow overshadow today; instead, plan for it, then refocus on the present moment. And always remember, each individual you interact with is navigating their own set of challenges. Building and maintaining strong relationships will help in fostering understanding and effective communication. As I share this advice, I'm also reminding myself. Though I often aim for this balance, I too stumble. Yet, it remains a worthy pursuit.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
One story that truly stands out revolves around a profound principle: "Creating jobs is a worthy goal." This sentiment, expressed by Mr. Ed McVaney, has always remained with me. Ed's journey of nurturing a company from a modest team in the 70s to an empire with over 6,000 staff by the early 2000s profoundly influenced me. It wasn’t just about the numbers, but the culture he established. A culture rooted in a clear vision and communicated with passion, inviting others to join the journey. Ed always prioritized character over skill, a principle that significantly shaped my own leadership approach. Through his example, I learned the importance of upholding both verbal and contractual promises, always putting the individual and customer's needs at the forefront. Ed's ability to create jobs and inspire countless individuals underlines the immense power of a promise kept and a vision pursued.