Greater diversity of team leads to diversity of thought
Mal attributes his professional success to the quality of teams he was able to work with over the last 25-30 years. It was through various roles starting at Optus where he developed an entrepreneurial mindset, to De La Rue where he began working in international business to later, Macquarie Bank, where he found he favoured moving at pace with a team of motivated people. It is only through a multitude of professional experiences that individuals can exceed in their field, however, it is when people find lessons in those experiences that they become leaders in business. Diverse employment history can encourage creative problem solving or innovative thinking that might have otherwise been overlooked. Mal says his past employment were all “liberating and a huge learning experience” which ultimately help set the foundation to navigate a business during a global crisis.
Like with many CEO’s, Mal has experience in managing crises, however, the COVID pandemic is unique having had a global economic and social impact. “This [the pandemic] is no one’s fault” Mal says in the interview, “no one sees it as a result of poor practices or activities, but we all have a challenge ahead of us about how to effectively rally together to become better in business and society”.
The “playbook” on getting through
Businesses around the world are learning how to manage and operate in this crisis and theorising what the “new normal” will look like. Mal states “we are all learning and finding our way on this” and as every business is different, leaders require to react differently. Although he says many of his actions during the pandemic has come from intuition, Mal has offered core principles that he has developed through his career that could be helpful during any crisis.
1. Being clear-headed is vital
This comes from looking after yourself as you cannot help the business if you cannot help yourself first.
2. Building a quality business benefits long-term
When times are “good” it is important to always advance and develop your business for the future. If you do not put effort and invest in your company like deploying new operating systems, creating workplace culture, and developing a reliable leadership and executive team, it is more difficult to navigate through any crisis as you’re playing ‘catch-up’.
3. Have a bias towards action
Rather than analysing your actions to a point of excess, a leader should act. The worst thing to do as a leader in a crisis is not to act.
Although his experience has aided Mal in finding the way through COVID, Mal states that having clarity of thought and purpose towards your business is paramount. No matter the background or job experience, we can all be leaders in a crisis.
To help your business better prepare for a crisis, a plan is important. Check out our Business Continuity Planning insights here.