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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
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helps you in your leadership.



Jonno White

7 Questions with Alister MacDonald
7 Questions with Alister MacDonald

Name: Alister MacDonald

Current title: Spare Parts Manager

Current organisation: Whale Tankers

After starting life as an engineer I found myself a career in Spare parts Supply chain almost by accident. I basically left a conference for a comfort break at the wrong time. Upon return I was left alone to come up with a vision for inventory management. Suffice to say I was given the chance to implement this plan. I have always believed my teams can achieve more than they think they're capable of and spend my time allowing them to experiment with their roles to go on to bigger and better.

7 Questions with Alister MacDonald

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?

Hardest is taking a vision and cascading that through teams and the business. Often there is many years experience and bringing that vision to reality is sometimes uncomfortable for all.

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

I didn't really have a plan, it kinda just happened. I look back and I've always held a leadership role from junior sport forward. I think by understanding the numbers side of business easily has allowed me to concentrate on helping my people By allowing them to do well it makes me do well and therefore I've progressed in my career

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

Like many I'm a bit of a creature of habit. These days my day starts with walking the dog. (once upon a time with a run or a ride) I tend to plan out some part of my day in the shower and often get my best solutions there. Once in I make the error of checking emails first and then tackle the "Frog" of the day early. I tend to spend a lot of my day allowing my teams to solve problems using me as their sounding board. The day ends with Dinner with my wife and a relaxing time with no work interfering with our evenings.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Give people the time and space to solve the question by themselves. Solving it for them does no good for anyone except my Ego. They often have the answer - just lack the confidence to get there

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?

The Coaching Habit allowed me to give people the space to get to the real problem affecting them.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?

I allow people the space to make errors and learn from them. Nobody makes mistakes on purpose and we can repair most of them if known early enough. Confidence in them ( and them in me) is the cornerstone of this.

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

After trying to change a work method and meeting massive resistance I decided to back off and let the change happen more organically. After a few months I was approached from the shop floor with " why don't we do X" I smiled as X was what I wanted to do weeks ago and was told it would never work. From that day forward I asked people what they could change to make things better and then align my goals to be just ahead of that.

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