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7 Questions on Leadership with Trent McHugh

Name: Trent McHugh

Title: CEO

Organisation: Lifehub Group

I started my career in disability and mental health services, managing small teams with minimal resources and often high stress environments. I later studied business and took several executive roles before starting my own company. I strongly believe that building effective teams is critical to the success of any organisation and fostering an innovation culture will ensure long term growth.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Most of my roles have involved stepping in to a business that needs improvement. Being able to make changes and having the buy-in from staff to make those changes quickly is often a challenge.

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

I was very frustrated with how a particular service was being managed and that staff were not being fully supported. I was considering resigning. There was a moment where the Executive Manager was on our site for the day and I took the opportunity to explain what I thought the service needed. I talked with him for about 30 minutes and explained how it could work, what resources we needed, how this would save the organisation time and reduce risk etc. He suggested I go to an interview the next day which was for the manager role. I got the role and then stepped up from there.

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

I work from home but I structure it like a business. My morning routine is generally exercise and meditation with my first online meetings starting at around 8am. I prefer to meet in the morning and set tasks for the day or for the week. My critical tasks are a focus in the morning, while I'm still fresh.

If I am to meet with someone externally, I tend to do this mid morning. This gives me a solid 2 hours before and after to complete other tasks before lunch.

After lunch, I typically do research or longer projects such as building a marketing plan or product development.

If I don't have too much on, I often will shift some of the workload to a 2 or 3 hour window on the weekend and have a break during the week instead. This helps me to keep on top of demands and prevents any feeling of overwhelm.

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

Regardless of your job title, if your team does not connect with you, it is hard to move forward together.

By making sure you support team members to feel connected to the vision, to make them feel they are part of what is being built, the more they will step up to support you as a leader.

Leaders are not assigned, they are elected by the team.

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?

Mindful Leader by Michael Bunting. This book provides some great insights in to bringing mindfulness-based principles in to the workplace. This has helped reduce stress and conflict in the workplace, builds resilience and encourages creativity.

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

Leadership is not easy- read and learn from others as much as you can.

Find a mentor in your organisation you can talk to about your leadership challenges and how to deal with them.

Build your team by identifying the star performers and build them to be leaders too.

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

I was appointed CEO of a small not for profit organisation which had been run in to the ground financially and culturally.

I spent a lot of time working with very distressed staff in the early days- people were very frightened of doing 'the wrong thing' and there were many criticisms being levelled at the team leaders.

I worked closely with them to build their leadership capacity and also invited them to take part in developing a workplace strategy that aligned with their strengths as a leader. After 12 months, the service was working much better and we had built new partnerships with other organisations because of the great work of our team leaders. The place felt much more alive and fun. This enabled us to attract more staff and we were able to build our teams with a new culture and ethos.

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