Who are your role models?

What organisational leader has the most positive influence in your life? Gallup Polls asked that question of more than 10,000 people in a study of leadership from the follower’s perspective. Who would you nominate? Perhaps a leader who influenced your early career or it could be someone who still inspires you to go the ‘extra mile?’

Gerry Moriarty has been a role model for me and countless others. He will be embarrassed by my acknowledgement. But as he retires from his advisory role with Macquarie Banking Group, I have reflected not just on his significant accomplishments, but on his attributes, that make him such a respected and successful leader. What can we learn from leaders like him?

Gerry exemplifies the idea that leadership is a constant adaptation and reinvention. He also illustrates the point that leadership is essentially about getting results through people.

He has reinvented his career several times over the years. He has carried his inherent problem-solving strength with him from his technical roots in engineering into management and from broadcasting to multimedia to telecommunications as well as investment banking.

Like many great leaders he is uncluttered in his thinking. He has the great ability to simplify complex problems. In my experience, he understands that the biggest problem is ‘people.’ I often wondered how he was able to influence me and so many others to go that extra mile. I noticed three simple but effective practices that he used.

  • He took an interest in you. He took the time to ask questions about your family, kids’ education, your travel plans, health etc. He was genuinely interested in you and valued you as a person.
  • He believed in you. In my experience, he believed in me on many occasions, more than I believed in myself, at a particular point in time. In doing so, he challenged me and many others like me to keep stepping up our leadership.
  • He said please and thank you. He would acknowledge that you already had a lot on your plate but asked if you could please take on a big new challenge. He would always make sure to thank you when you delivered the outcome.

It turns out that being valued in this way is what Gallup found that followers are seeking in leaders.

Gerry’s problem-solving strength has enabled him to adapt to new industry sectors and reinvent a successful career spearheading Telstra’s technology to infrastructure investment and advisory work at Macquarie. He led the Macquarie infrastructure investment model into the communications sector in setting up a global fund that bought and operated communication infrastructure businesses. As Chairman of BAI Communications (formerly Broadcast Australia), he guided its development and global expansion as a specialist in transit communications which has very substantially grown the size and value of the company.

The important lesson for me from Gerry’s example is his continual reinvention and application of his problem solving and people motivation strengths. It demonstrates that we can apply our strengths in new environments and take them to the next level. In fact, it is your strength that got you to where you are now. It will be your strength that takes you to the next level. In Gerry’s case, he applied his problem-solving ability to the biggest problem of all; how to get the best out of people. 

What organisational leader has the most positive influence in your life?

Best regards, Brian   

PS: Want to align your team on a bold new future? Contact us for a free 30 minute leadership diagnostic.