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7 Questions on Leadership with Mark McCrindle

Name: Mark McCrindle

Title: Social Researcher, Principal and Founder

Organisation: McCrindle

Mark McCrindle is a social researcher, best-selling author, influential thought leader and TEDx speaker. He is recognised globally as coining the name for the emerging generation, Generation Alpha. Mark’s advisory, communications and research company, McCrindle, count among its clients more than 100 of the nation’s largest companies and leading international brands.

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!


Jonno White

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

Effective leadership is measured by the tough conversations and the difficult decisions of the leader. Therefore, what I find both challenging, yet important is when I have to lead in a direction that may impact people negatively, or will cause further issues, even though it is the right thing to do.

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

I was interested in leadership from a young age. Even in the playground I saw that some people could influence others to create action, who could get their ideas to become a reality, and I was fascinated to find out the factors behind this. And so began my observations of leadership, my study of human behaviour and now my work as a social researcher.

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

Structure is important, but leaving room within the structure to respond to emerging needs or team requests is essential. I like to have patterns as much as possible but as each day is different, I’ve found it important to be adaptive to set routines. I try to begin each day with time with God, then time for some exercise, followed by time for planning before the work day begins. The day isn’t done until there has been time to contribute to others, particularly family and ideally, time to reflect on the day.

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

While not all serving is leadership, all leadership is serving. Any leadership that doesn’t have at its heart a focus on serving others and enlarging their capacity is illegitimate.

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?

Robert K Greenleaf’s original work: The Servant as Leader. It was written more than 50 years ago, is just 26 pages in length, but it is a timeless reminder of the need for leaders who equip others, empower teams and so leave an enduring legacy.

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

Life is both brief, so steward it well - but also not a sprint, so continue to learn, grow, and plan for impacts over multiple decades and roles.

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

When I was starting out, I met a young would-be leader who tried to emulate successful people around him. However, he copied their actions without internalising their values and principles. He was quickly assessed by others to be a slick pretender with no depth of character or virtuous purpose. Within a decade his life, by any measure personally or professionally, was a wreck and the subsequent decades have proceeded in a similar pattern. It is a reminder that practices of life best flow from patterns of habit, and these will only lead to lasting success if they are built on timeless priorities and a compelling purpose.

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