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7 Questions on Leadership with Warren Levy

Name: Warren Levy

Title: CEO

Organisation: Jaguar Exploration and Production

I am a Canadian international executive with extensive experience developing natural resource and energy companies in over 20 countries on four continents. I can bring a local, regional, and global view to the strategy and direction of a business. I have successfully built teams and grown business at many different stages of their development. I have also acted as an independent director with specialization in governance, new market entry, capital raising and strategic direction for public and private companies.

I believe that my goal is to sustainably grow businesses to have a positive impact on the people that work at the companies and in the communities where we live and work.

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

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


Jonno White

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

Consistency of communicating and developing purpose. It is challenging at times to keep focused on the true value that comes from talking to people. Helping them to do their jobs, and keeping them aware of why we are doing what we are doing. During stressful times, assuming that people are clear about the "why" behind everything can be easier, but spending the time, especially during difficult moments to keep talking to people has huge value.

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

For me it started early. I loved playing baseball as a child, and was invited almost by accident by a friend to help coach his six year old nephew's T-ball team. I realized that I loved coaching even more than playing and spent the time to eventually become a certified coach in Canada, coaching both my high school and university teams while studying.

That experience led me to always conceptualize my true value in what I could help others achieve. When I entered industry it led me to gravitate towards leadership roles and have skills ready to be successful in those early jobs.

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

I get up every day before 6 am. Have breakfast with my daughter and put her on the school bus before going for a run.

The early work day is focused around dealing with immediate urgent tasks. The bulk of the day, including lunch is spent working with our people. As much as possible talking to them in informal settings. I always schedule time during the week to deal with pending personal issues and encourage my people to do the same. At least two or three times a day I find some time to wander around the office and talk to random people. By doing so I can get a feel for how people are doing, what the morale is like and most importantly I give people the confidence to come and talk to me when they have something to say. This is probably the single most important thing that I do every day as I have a chance to hear from people what they really think, which most people are loath to do in a formal meeting setting.

Evenings are spent with the family, cooking dinner and eating together. The end of the day is always spent reading or watching something interesting on TV before going to bed.

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

The humility of admitting as a leader that you don't know anything at all about a topic. I recently have seen first hand the value of naked vulnerability in a collaborative setting where the most senior person in the room admitted they knew nothing about a topic and that she needed help. The explosive outpouring of support was amazing.

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?

Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration - written by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace. The success that came out of PIXAR through radical collaboration and teambuilding is inspiring. The trust and confidence of a leader to let their people take the lead has led to extraordinary results and this lesson has inspired me to be even more empowering.

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

Its the same advice my father gave to me when I started working, so I will quote him as closely as I can: "As a leader, I always figured that when things went wrong my shoulders were broad enough to take the heat, and when things go well, its important to pass on the rewards to the team as there will always be enough to go around".

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

Many years ago, while struggling to keep a company that I had founded afloat, in the midst of a tense board meeting one of the board members calmed the room and asked a simple question "but what is the soul of your company?" "If you had to let everything else go, and just protected the soul how could you do that"

This single moment was a turning point in the companies history and in my journey professionally. The "why are we here" is more important that anything else, including what we do and how we do it. All of those questions should fall out naturally once you understand the purpose for why the company exists.

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